WannaCry

Reminding Us Why Cyber-Security Should Always be on the Agenda

Another month and another major cyber-security headline hitting the airwaves. And this time it’s a real belter, bringing major organisations across the world to a temporary, yet debilitating and costly, standstill.

WannaCry, as it’s known, is a ransomware virus that swept with searing speed across the globe in early May. In the UK, the effect was most worryingly felt by NHS authorities in England, with systems brought to a standstill, and essential data locked by encryption; literally held to ransom by the perpetrator.

No wonder it has been called:  “the biggest ransomware attack in history”.

Serving as a timely reminder that, though there’s a tendency to grow complacent, IT security is always an issue that needs your full attention and constant vigilance.

The Indiscriminate Danger

The one thing that WannaCry, and other cyber-breaches of recent times, demonstrates, is that anyone can be targeted, anyone can become a victim. In any organisation, any location, at any given moment.

It doesn’t matter if it’s Sony, Tesco Bank, or the more low-key IT system of an SME in South Wales, the danger is palpable and potentially devastating.

And yes, we understand that many, if not most, organisations may well have an inkling of the danger, and have put protective measures in place. But, as the NHS incident seems to suggest, any moment where the eye is taken off the ball, where complacency sets in, or where updates are not made, you’re allowing a potential weak spot to develop. A tiny vulnerability that can be exploited.

It only takes one small glitch in the system for these malicious bugs to invade and wreak chaos.

While those affected are still sifting through the wreckage, as it were, looking for answers in the aftermath, it would seem that the attack came via familiar routes. Namely through phishing (or spear-phishing) attacks; and the combination of lax software updates on the systems attacked.

For although it may be one of the oldest methods, phishing is still the go-to option for many an attack. Because it’s easy to catch people and systems off-guard, or in periods of lessened vigilance. An innocuous looking email, perhaps, that slips through an out-of-date anti-virus barrier and is innocently clicked on by a user who may be dealing with dozens and dozens of similar looking messages every day.

Only to find that the system has suddenly gone on lockdown, with data inaccessible, and the entire organisation paralysed, at the mercy of the cyber-criminals.

As thousands have, rather painfully, discovered in recent weeks.

 

3 Things You Can Do Now

1. Software Updates

If you have anti-virus software in place then you are certainly showing that you’re aware of the risks and potential costs attached to a cyber-attack. However, it’s crucial that you keep on top of this – the software is only at its optimal effectiveness if it’s up-to-date. So ensure that you have the latest version, that any updates that are outstanding made straight away.

Similarly, any software used within the system needs to be in its most current iteration. Those update announcements and patches that come up on your system need to be implemented straight away – as they will be addressing potential weak spots in the system

2. User Education

IT security never stops being critically important in the organisation – so it’s vital to ensure that all users are educated and informed on best practice, what to be aware of, and the vital need for constant vigilance when using the system.

3. Keeping IT security on the agenda

And finally, the issue is something that should never be allowed to go quiet in the company. An attack can result in major costs to finances and reputation. If the conversation about cyber-security has dried up, then the risk of complacency and the thought that it won’t happen to you is higher.

Don’t let that happen on your watch.

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Related blogs: SabreICT

Tagged with: cyber attack, cyber protection, cyber-crime, phishing

Categorised as: SabreICT

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