WannaCry ransomware attack goes global

 

News on Friday 12th May that NHS England had suffered a major ransomware cyber attack has since been extended to a wider victim base. We now know that the attack has affected around 150 countries, with major hits on the UK and Russia. It is estimated to have affected over 200,000 users to date.  In the UK 48 NHS trusts have reported problems at hospitals, GP surgeries and pharmacies, along with 13 NHS bodies in Scotland – and no doubt the early part of this week will result in more problems as staff come into work and switch their PCs back on.

The hack which targeted Windows machines was miraculously stopped in its tracks from spreading by a young security expert (under name @MalwareTechBlog) who accidentally hit the kill switch on the malware by registering the hard code as a domain name which had been seeded by its creator

SAFEGUARDS:

There are some urgent checks that all companies and organisations should be making in the next 24 hours:

  1. Ensure you are up to date on patching your environment– a lot of organisations were caught out because they didn’t (and Microsoft released a patch for the vulnerability exploited by WannaCry in March 2017).
  2. Check your Anti Virus is up to date (and preferably use a cloud based service ie Webroot)
  3. Ensure you back up all your essential data in line with your businesses Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO), so you can’t be held to ransom and fearful of operational losses.
  4. Communicate with your staff to alert them to avoid clicking on any suspicious emails and making sure that your operating system software is up to date (it was a rare move for Microsoft to release security updates for unsupported software such as XP as a direct result of this event)

Companies that want advice on data security, can contact Amicus ITS in confidence on 02380 429429.

 

Technology & Governance – the year ahead

There is lots of potential in many directions for cyber-security, threat intelligence and risk management in 2016 and I am sure there will be some startling stories.   But the one thing I know for sure is that there will by hyper-growth in online extortion, hacktivism and mobile malware and a pivot for government agencies and corporations towards a much more offensive strategy for dealing with cyber security threats.

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I think that both governments and enterprises of all sizes are beginning to recognise the benefits of cyber security foresight and acceptance that there will be cyber attacks – and that it is likely they will be hacked. We see changes in legislation coming down the line and increasing hiring activity around skilled cyber security analysts and officers within enterprises.

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Enterprises are now evaluating their risk as it relates to their assets and their position in their supply chain to assess their vulnerabilities and respond with plans to protect and defend accordingly. Individual users are becoming much more aware of online threats and through training and education, are upping their game translating this heightened visibility into increasingly prudent preventative action.  Malvertising is being forced to morph into more sinister approaches due to an almost 50% increase in the use of ad-blocking software in 2015.

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This is good and bad, as the new approaches will have figured out a way around the software and will create new and innovative attack vectors that most users won’t see coming. Hackers are really good at evolving to adapt to new environments and for every defensive measure, there must be 50 ways to work around it.

An increase in the sophistication of psychological and analytical techniques and social engineering innovation will create a large bubble in the online extortion business driving hackers to expose even more incriminating information about their victims. Hopefully, the Ashley Madison breach will act as a lesson-learned deterrent, or at least a cautionary tale to help potential victims think twice before posting such potentially incriminating information.

If there is no basis for extortion, then it will be hard to extort.

So here are some of the things I believe we can expect to see during 2016:

•    Evolving cyber criminals will develop new techniques and attack vectors to personalize hacks, potentially making 2016 the year of online extortion (unless we stop posting hyper-personal data in inappropriate spots).
•    Mobile malware will surge along with the sales of smartphones and new online payment systems (these will create a target rich environment that will be impossible for cyber criminals to resist as these payment systems are particularly vulnerable to attack).
•    There will be a significant increase in government regulations designed to increase protection, detection, arrest and prosecution of cyber criminals, but result instead in increased cost and difficulty related to compliance for all businesses.
•    Significant fines and punishment for failure to comply with existing regulations affecting retail, consumer, healthcare, hospitality, finance and manufacturing industries.
•    In spite of increased intention, most companies will not be able to staff cyber security experts in 2016, as the current unemployment rate for analysts is less than zero.
•    There will be a reduction in malvertising but an increase in socially engineered intrusion and the resulting compromise and capture of administrative credentials will lead to an increase in successful breaches.

 

Now is the time to take decisive action to get ahead of all this by installing layered-defence technologies, training in identifying and detecting cyber attacks, moving to immediate compliance with all regulations affecting our and our customer’s industry sector, and developing an internal cyber defence capability as well as partnering with external specialist firms to provide it.

What you don’t want is your emails exposed, your internal documents made public, your assets compromised, your position in your supply chain used as a tool to breach a client company or your name in the paper.

If our assets aren’t more valuable than the investment required to get secure, our customers and reputational impact surely are.   Let’s get moving.

 

Silhouette of a hacker isloated on black

 

 

 

 

 

This week’s news from the MD of Amicus ITS

Let’s end the confusion on Windows 8  

Since the launch of Windows 8, consumers have been primarily focused on the impact Microsoft’s latest OS will have on mobility. Although this plays an important role, the other key components of Windows 8 must also be explored.  Next week Amicus ITS are holding a Windows 8 event at Microsoft’s HQ in Reading, to demonstrate all of its offerings.  The event will feature what Windows 8 can offer to the corporate world through demonstrations, as well as explaining how to effectively manage a mobile work environment. 

Top Malware trends of 2013

With the recent increase in global security breaches, MSP mentor have revealed the top malware trends of 2013.  Trends for 2013 include; increased attacks on Google Chrome, malware that has the capability to invade virtual machines, and the introduction of native 64-bit Windows malware.  We believe organisations need to take a good look at what procedures are currently implemented and what they need to change.  

Mobility brings big changes to the market

The release of Microsoft’s latest device, the Surface Pro, is just around the corner.  As more and more users are taking advantage of mobility and connectivity on-the-go, we think the market is set to change.  Consumers now want to accomplish more with their tablet, performing the same tasks (including Word and Excel) that they could in the office. However, this doesn’t just refer to devices; applications play a large part too.  As users turn to alternative online communications tools, such as free messaging and email, SMS messaging has seen its first decline since mobile phones began.

 SME’s need to embrace the Cloud  

Gartner have recently suggested that Cloud Computing is set to be one of the biggest trends of 2013, and with a vast amount of SME’s yet to embrace the cloud, there is still great opportunity for growth.  The Cloud offers numerous benefits for SME’s, including cost effectiveness, operational efficiencies and scalability.  We believe that with clear education and a protected security procedure put in place, Cloud Computing can change not only large corporations but SME’s as well.