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Five Key Cybersecurity Lessons from the Wannacry Ransomware Attack

Author: Scarinci Hollenbeck|June 6, 2017

What Cybersecurity Lessons Can we Learn from the Wannacry Ransomware Attack?

Five Key Cybersecurity Lessons from the Wannacry Ransomware Attack

What Cybersecurity Lessons Can we Learn from the Wannacry Ransomware Attack?

The Wannacry ransomware attack that crippled computers operating Windows around the world was unique. Companies using Microsoft Windows were instructed to update their computers, and security experts had even warned the cyber attack was coming. Accordingly, companies that fell victim to the ransomware could face lawsuits alleging that they were negligent in failing to safeguard their computer systems.

5 Cybersecurity Lessons We Can Learn From the Wannacry Ransomware Attack
Photo courtesy at Stocksnap.io

The Wannacry ransomware attack exploited a vulnerability that had been known for months and had a readily available solution. In March 2017, Microsoft released a patch for its Windows operating system that fixed the issue. A few weeks ago, hackers released files from the National Security Agency (NSA), which showed how the security vulnerability could be weaponized. When the attacks began, security experts sounded the alarm. Nonetheless, the ransomware attack gained access to thousands of computer systems across the globe. It forced hospitals to cancel surgeries, closed gas stations, and halted production at factories.

Ransomware Attacks Target Business Community

Overall, ransomware attacks have been on the rise. In 2015, the average number of ransomware attacks averaged between 23,000 and 35,000 per month, according to Symantec. The malware, which encrypts or locks valuable digital files and demands a ransom to release them, can be particularly devastating for organizations that rely on computers to perform critical functions. FedEx was one of the companies hit hard by Wannacry.

Most ransomware attacks gain access to a company’s computer systems via an email with attachment that appears legitimate, like an invoice or an electronic fax. Once the employee opens it, the malware begins encrypting files and folders on local drives, any attached drives, backup drives, and potentially other computers on the same network. The attackers then demand ransom payment, usually in Bitcoin, in exchange for a decryption key.

Defending Against a Ransomware Attack

Businesses that installed the Microsoft patch were essentially immune from the Wannacry ransomware. To protect your business from the next cyberattack, it is imperative to be proactive. Below are several important considerations to keep in mind:

          (1) Back up your files

It is imperative to back up your files. And when you are done, you should do it again. It is imperative to have a backup of all your data that is not connected to your main network so that it will not be compromised in the event of a cyber attack. It is also advisable to keep a copy of your data in a separate physical location or in the “cloud.” This helps ensure that no data will be lost if your business suffers a fire, flood or other major disaster at your central location. Businesses should also regularly verify that backups are being performed properly and that they can be relied upon in the event of a cyber attack.

          (2) Always perform software updates

It is essential to quickly patch the operating system, software, and firmware on all computers. Employees should also be instructed to install security patches on mobile devices. It is also important to verify that virus detection programs are also up to date. In failing to keep up with software updates, companies may expose themselves to liability.

         (3) Train your employees about ransomware

Employees are your first and best line of defense against cyber attacks. As ransomware attacks become more sophisticated, workers need to be more vigilant. While ransomware attacks initially relied on email messages that were clearly identifiable as spam, hackers are now using phishing schemes that make emails appear to come from a known contact.

         (4) Develop a solid business continuity plan

 Even if you have a data backup, it often takes time to remove the ransomware and restore normal operations. In the meantime, your company should have a plan in place to keep essential functions running, communicate with key staff, and inform the public about your response to the cyber attack.

          (5) Check your insurance coverage

While many commercial general liability (CGL) policies provide coverage for business disruption, many insurers are increasingly excluding cyber-related incidents. Specific cyber insurance policies may cover the cost of the ransom money paid and provide incident response assistance. However, the terms of individual policies vary. It is imperative to review all your policies to verify what types of cyber-attacks are covered and identify any potential gaps in business insurance coverage.

Businesses big and small can benefit from these guidelines. The challenges with a hacking incident and data breach often lie in figuring out what is necessary for your company, what should be a priority, and how best to determine and integrate both technology and training into your operations.

Do you have any feedback, thoughts, reactions or comments concerning this topic? Feel free to leave a comment below for Fernando M. Pinguelo. If you have any questions about this post, please contact me or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work. To learn more about data privacy and security, visit eWhiteHouse Watch – Where Technology, Politics, and Privacy Collide (http://ewhwblog.com).

Five Key Cybersecurity Lessons from the Wannacry Ransomware Attack

Author: Scarinci Hollenbeck

The Wannacry ransomware attack that crippled computers operating Windows around the world was unique. Companies using Microsoft Windows were instructed to update their computers, and security experts had even warned the cyber attack was coming. Accordingly, companies that fell victim to the ransomware could face lawsuits alleging that they were negligent in failing to safeguard their computer systems.

5 Cybersecurity Lessons We Can Learn From the Wannacry Ransomware Attack
Photo courtesy at Stocksnap.io

The Wannacry ransomware attack exploited a vulnerability that had been known for months and had a readily available solution. In March 2017, Microsoft released a patch for its Windows operating system that fixed the issue. A few weeks ago, hackers released files from the National Security Agency (NSA), which showed how the security vulnerability could be weaponized. When the attacks began, security experts sounded the alarm. Nonetheless, the ransomware attack gained access to thousands of computer systems across the globe. It forced hospitals to cancel surgeries, closed gas stations, and halted production at factories.

Ransomware Attacks Target Business Community

Overall, ransomware attacks have been on the rise. In 2015, the average number of ransomware attacks averaged between 23,000 and 35,000 per month, according to Symantec. The malware, which encrypts or locks valuable digital files and demands a ransom to release them, can be particularly devastating for organizations that rely on computers to perform critical functions. FedEx was one of the companies hit hard by Wannacry.

Most ransomware attacks gain access to a company’s computer systems via an email with attachment that appears legitimate, like an invoice or an electronic fax. Once the employee opens it, the malware begins encrypting files and folders on local drives, any attached drives, backup drives, and potentially other computers on the same network. The attackers then demand ransom payment, usually in Bitcoin, in exchange for a decryption key.

Defending Against a Ransomware Attack

Businesses that installed the Microsoft patch were essentially immune from the Wannacry ransomware. To protect your business from the next cyberattack, it is imperative to be proactive. Below are several important considerations to keep in mind:

          (1) Back up your files

It is imperative to back up your files. And when you are done, you should do it again. It is imperative to have a backup of all your data that is not connected to your main network so that it will not be compromised in the event of a cyber attack. It is also advisable to keep a copy of your data in a separate physical location or in the “cloud.” This helps ensure that no data will be lost if your business suffers a fire, flood or other major disaster at your central location. Businesses should also regularly verify that backups are being performed properly and that they can be relied upon in the event of a cyber attack.

          (2) Always perform software updates

It is essential to quickly patch the operating system, software, and firmware on all computers. Employees should also be instructed to install security patches on mobile devices. It is also important to verify that virus detection programs are also up to date. In failing to keep up with software updates, companies may expose themselves to liability.

         (3) Train your employees about ransomware

Employees are your first and best line of defense against cyber attacks. As ransomware attacks become more sophisticated, workers need to be more vigilant. While ransomware attacks initially relied on email messages that were clearly identifiable as spam, hackers are now using phishing schemes that make emails appear to come from a known contact.

         (4) Develop a solid business continuity plan

 Even if you have a data backup, it often takes time to remove the ransomware and restore normal operations. In the meantime, your company should have a plan in place to keep essential functions running, communicate with key staff, and inform the public about your response to the cyber attack.

          (5) Check your insurance coverage

While many commercial general liability (CGL) policies provide coverage for business disruption, many insurers are increasingly excluding cyber-related incidents. Specific cyber insurance policies may cover the cost of the ransom money paid and provide incident response assistance. However, the terms of individual policies vary. It is imperative to review all your policies to verify what types of cyber-attacks are covered and identify any potential gaps in business insurance coverage.

Businesses big and small can benefit from these guidelines. The challenges with a hacking incident and data breach often lie in figuring out what is necessary for your company, what should be a priority, and how best to determine and integrate both technology and training into your operations.

Do you have any feedback, thoughts, reactions or comments concerning this topic? Feel free to leave a comment below for Fernando M. Pinguelo. If you have any questions about this post, please contact me or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work. To learn more about data privacy and security, visit eWhiteHouse Watch – Where Technology, Politics, and Privacy Collide (http://ewhwblog.com).

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