As you may have heard, a serious cyber security ransomware attack called WannaCry surfaced on Friday, May 12, and has spread across the globe. It has been described as a cyber pandemic. The initial attacks shut down hospitals in the U.K. and also Asia. Ransomware refers to malware that locks or threatens to lock a user’s computer systems unless a sum of money is paid. Ransomware, like most forms of cyber attacks, constantly morphs in response to successfully deployed defenses. As defenders succeed in blocking a pathway, the malware pops up in a morphed version, requiring further changes in defensive tactics. Dealing with ransomeware is just like playing Whack-A-Mole, but with serious potential consequences. In today’s world, where attackers are often very well-funded, it is important to work together with others to mount a successful defense.
As the WannaCry ransomware is tackled, new variations are emerging. Even though the initial WannaCry Malware attack was thwarted when the kill switch was discovered, new more sophisticated variants are emerging that are more difficult to address. The WannaCry malware appears to be focusing on human vulnerability, namely the tendency of untrained users to open unexpected documents or click on unknown links, so a first step in addressing the attack starts at the ground level –by educating ourselves and our employees to detect the signs of malware attacks. Getting the word out can help others be prepared. In the event of an attack, it is important to respond quickly as the attacks are serious and ransomware continues to morph and spread.