After the recent WannaCry attack across the UK NHS and other global organizations, a lot of small businesses are wondering what they need to know about the latest cyberattack to protect their interests. Cyberattacks aren’t a new trend, but ransomware may be a new word for a lot of people not in cybersecurity circles – and it should keep business owners on their toes.
What is WannaCry?
WannaCry is a type of ransomware, which is a little different from traditional malware viruses in the way it affects users. While a lot of traditional malware viruses may be used to bog down machines or obtain information, ransomware works by getting an unsuspecting user to download and open the program, which will then encrypt the entire hard drive of a computer. In order for a user to obtain access to their information again, they must pay the hacker a fee, usually in bitcoin, or watch their machine become a very expensive paperweight.
Can it be stopped?
For a time, yes. Cybersecurity researchers found a “kill switch” that would stop the attack, but hackers realized their mistake. Now the kill switch has been fixed, however, stopping WannaCry is a bit more difficult.
Once a machine is encrypted by WannaCry, accessing the information without paying the hacker is nearly impossible. Paying the fee isn’t a guarantee either since hackers don’t have to return your system – which is the problem when dealing with thieves. Once a machine is overtaken and encrypted by WannaCry, your choices are slim – trust the hacker and pay them what they want, or buy a new machine.
The only option to fight ransomware like WannaCry is to be ready with a good defense to make sure the virus never makes it onto your machines. The ransomware was able to take hold of outdated security flaws in Windows XP, which can be easily prevented if computers are kept up to date with the latest security patches.
Proper cybersecurity best practices to avoid cybersecurity negligence are vital too. These practices should be taught across your organization to all levels of employees to ensure they don’t accidentally download any suspicious links.
Finally, working with a trusted IT expert can help you take steps to avoid future cybersecurity disasters through proper training and cybersecurity diligence. WannaCry is just the latest cyber-attack to make the news. The best way to be prepared for the attack of tomorrow is to be working alongside a trusted IT partner who will know how to keep your organization safe and up-to-date.