- The ransomware takes over users’ files, demanding £230 to restore them.
- An estimated 57,000 computers in more than 150 countries have been infected.
- 16 NHS hospitals and other high profile companies such as Renault, Fed Ex and the German national railway have been hit.
- Experts believe the ransomware code may have originated in North Korea.
Friday 12th of May’s ransomware outbreak, which used recently revealed weaknesses in Microsoft’s Windows operating system to spread further and faster than any before, has prompted everyone to review their security policies immediately.
The ransomware, also known as “WanaCrypt0r”, “WeCry”, “WanaCrypt” or “WeCrypt0r”, used a vulnerability in a Windows Server component to spread within corporate networks. Once WeCry began spreading, however, Microsoft took the “highly unusual” step of releasing free security updates for those out-of-support versions of Windows, which can be downloaded from its website.
The most vulnerable operating systems include Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP, both of which have not been sold for over a decade; and Windows 8, which some users prefer to the supported Windows 8.1 because of differences between the two versions of the operating system.
How to defend against the WannaCry
- The vulnerability does not exist within Windows 10, the latest version of the software, but is present in all versions of Windows prior to that, dating back to Windows XP.
- As a result of Microsoft’s first patch, users of Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8.1 can easily protect themselves against the main route of infection by running Windows Update on their systems. In fact, fully updated systems were largely protected from WanaCrypt0r even before Friday, with many of those infected having chosen to delay installing the security updates.
- Users of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 8 can defend against the ransomware by downloading the new patch from Windows.
- All users can further protect themselves by being wary of malicious email attachments, another major way through which the ransomware was spread.
How to protect against future attacks
Excell helps its customers create a comprehensive security strategy. For customers who utilise Excell connectivity and network services we already scour their network for weaknesses and indeed prevent many DOS (denial of Service) attacks. And, we’re very proud to say, not one of our Managed Service customers was affected by the WannnaCry ransomware.