Over the weekend there was a massive global cyber extortion attack that crippled some countries and left others scrambling to protect themselves.
The biggest ransomware outbreak in history hit Britain particularly hard with some hospitals and clinics forced to turn people away after their files were encrypted and they lost access to their computers.
Over 150 countries have been targeted including Spain, Portugal, Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan as some of the top targets.
The ransomware known as WannaCrypt or WannaCry spread through tricking victims into opening malicious attachments on spam emails. The ransomware then encrypted the computer demanding payment of anywhere from $300-$600 to restore access to the files. The demands included the payment be made in bitcoin currency in 3-7 days or the files would be permanently destroyed.
So far only three Australian companies have confirmed being hit with the malware, but the Federal Government has warned there could be more victims to come.
The malicious software behind the onslaught appeared to exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was supposedly identified by the National Security Agency (NSA) for its own intelligence-gathering purposes and was later leaked to the internet.
Microsoft have now released patches and are pushing out automatic updates. If you have not installed the latest Windows update do it ASAP.
As terrifying as the unprecedented global ransomware attack was, cybersecurity experts said it was nothing compared to what might be coming — especially if companies and governments do not make major fixes.
This ransomware attack thrived through clever social engineering that encouraged people to download infected files and then spread through users that were running older versions of Windows and hadn’t applied the latest updates. This kind of attack highlights the need to keep your systems updated and always be on the lookout for red flags in your emails.
Using old technology opens up your business to massive risks, either from security holes that aren’t being fixed, or the risk of software crashing and losing data because of incompatibility.
Software is continuously being updated to fix security problems or vulnerabilities that malware or a virus could exploit. Having old software in your business could mean you’re an easy target for a hacker looking for a way in.