Biggest. In. History. That’s what headlines around the globe we’re screaming Friday morning as cyber criminals executed the largest ever cyberattack. The effects of the attack, which centered around a nefarious piece of malware, were felt around the world. This weekend’s catastrophic global security breach only underscores the importance of properly securing your business’s most valuable digital assets. Read on as we details some best practices for better preparing your business for a potential cyber attack.
The Washington Post reports that Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, confirmed this weekend that networks in more than 150 countries and more than 200,000 computers had been affected by one of the biggest cybersecurity attacks in history. The attack, which began Friday, is believed to be the biggest online extortion attack ever recorded, spreading chaos by locking computers that run Britain’s national healthcare system, Germany’s national railway and scores of other companies, factories and government agencies worldwide.
The virus, known as WannaCry, is aptly named. It’s specifically designed to take over your computer, encrypt your files and threaten to delete them unless you pay about $300.
Although the investigation is ongoing, Europol thinks the malware began to spread Friday from Britain’s National Health Service. It then affected other networks in countries including Germany, Spain, China, Russia and India.
According to Jan Op Gen Oorth, Europol spokesman, said, “It remains unclear what the motivation was. Usually, ‘ransomware’ attacks are designed to be revenue sources, but in this case the ransom was quite low.” In fact, according to the agency, only few companies or individuals have so far opted to pay the ransom of $300 or more, following law enforcement recommendations.
ABC News reported than an English cybersecurity researcher, who cut short his vacation to look into the expanding ransomware attack, happened to come across a “kill switch” in the malware code that stopped its spread, albeit temporarily. The researcher, who tweets and blogs under the name “Malware Tech,” recounted the experience in a detailed blog post, “How to accidentally stop a global cyber attack.”
Here are some steps to take, according to MarketWatch, to help avoid becoming the next ransomware victim:
Update. Rinse. Repeat.
If your computer runs Windows, make sure your operating system is updated. Microsoft recently released a patch for the vulnerability that the ransomware worm targeted, so if you haven’t updated since then you may be at risk. The easiest thing to do is approve auto-updates.
Backup your data. If you have your most important data saved on a separate system, then you won’t be at risk of losing all your photos and data files if you get infected. While a cloud service could still be targeted, the odds are a multi-billion-dollar tech giant will have much better security than you do, and much better resources to respond quickly to an attack.
Exercise caution. Be wary of any unsolicited emails asking you to click on a link, or to download a file. If it looks weird, or the site is suspicious, don’t click it. Doing so could infect not only your computer, but whatever network you’re on — that’s how the virus spreads.
Use antivirus software. While they’re not always guaranteed to catch every virus, this is literally the job they’re built for. Scans can block viruses from being downloaded, and prevent malware from being installed.
As this weekend’s events revealed, ransomware is world’s number one cybersecurity threat. That makes the implementation of the aforementioned countermeasures a must. Otherwise, your most important files could be completely lost. At MDL Technology, we’re working around the clock to provide both protection and support for our customers. Learn more about our managed services here.