2017 will be the year we remember the large number of coordinated network attacks across all sectors of business. Ransomware like Wannacry, NotPetya, and Bad Rabbit led the assault. But there are other infections taking hold as well without detection, and are hiding in plain sight.
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As the largest Internet attack recorded in history unfolded last week, I was left with the same question I keep asking myself every time this happens. Why haven't business leaders learned anything? As of May 18th, more than 200,000 computers were affected in 150 counties and another 800,000 attacks were tracked and intercepted according to SonicWALL. The how and why this attack was even possible is long, and deep rooted in years of flawed security practices and procedures. It is speculated that part of the exploit can be attributed to a large cache of NSA documents leaked onto the Internet from a group called the "Shadow Brokers", a hacking group that somehow obtained the NSA documents and programs like Eternalblue and used them as part of the WannaCry outbreak of last week. What followed was a blood bath for any business, large or small that had any systems that were un-patched. Many thousands of business machines were rendered useless, their data encrypted, servers, workstations, databases, all destroyed in hours. Hospitals around the globe were infected as well, rendering X-RAY machines, MRI systems, and EMR systems useless.
I have been in the IT industry for over 20 years, and every time this happens I am just at a loss for why business leaders continue to bury their collective heads in the sand. This is not the usual wake up call, its a slap in the face. Wake up. Your business is a target, and a valuable one at that. This attack was only successful for 5 reasons, and they are the same 5 preventable reasons that have been around for years now.
Your Windows systems were not patched on a regular basis
You don't have monitored and tested backup systems
You use older Windows systems and technology (like XP of VISTA)
You don't have a firewall with proper IPS (intrusion prevention system) and rules / filters set up
You do not have proper anti-virus that is installed updated and active
This is the case over and over again, yet not many SMB's seem to learn. Your business network powers everything that you do, and some of those systems not running literally can mean life and death in the case of hospitals that were affected - not to mention the death of your company. An IT network is a complex system not unlike a clock, that needs constant oversight and maintenance to run well. You need managed IT and proactive IT services, to ensure that your business network is well maintained and protected. This is a call to arms, and maybe if you made it through unscathed - your last chance. Don't think because you made it through without having done anything proactively to defend yourself beforehand that you are safe, you were just lucky. As a good friend of mine said the other day, the time will come when luck will only go so far. Having proper oversight, maintenance and patching of your Windows systems and networks is not an option, it's a must and may now be a legal responsibility for you as well. You have to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have done everything in your power to protect yourself, your employees, and most importantly your clients. I'm including a link to our document on defending yourself from Internet threats. Download it - read it - and take action now. It may just save you from the next wave of attacks, which I assure you is coming and with greater destruction.
To learn more about Cardinal Technology Solutions, Inc. visit us online at WWW.CARDINALTEK.COM or call us at 540-431-4161