If you were still in any doubts about your responsibility for keeping your online data safe, the recent crisis enveloping the NHS and its lack of defense against cyber attacks in 2017 should destroy them.
For those who wish for a recap, on May 12 a massive cyber-attack known as WannaCry infected more than 200,000 machines in 150 countries, including 47 NHS trusts in the UK. This led to a swathe of cancellations of routine surgery and GP appointments, in what Europol described it as ‘the largest ransomware attack observed in history’. As the dust started to settle on the carnage, fingers were pointed and blame was apportioned, mainly to the lack of up-to-date technology used by much of the NHS.
A reliance on Windows XP, dating back to 2001, is one reason. The arcane but much-loved software needs regular patches to maintain some form of IT security. But if these patches are incompatible with the rest of the IT system then criminals might still be able to make hay – and they did.
The upheaval is still fresh and the ramifications may continue, but the naïve assumption would be that cyber hackers only target giants such as the NHS, Talk Talk, Sony, and smaller companies are safe. However, this is to assume that cyberhackers are rational and reasonable people, and that the same attack that can cripple a giant cannot also be used instantly on multiple smaller companies across the world.
According to research by Beaming, explained in SmallBusiness.co.uk, UK businesses were subjected to 230,000 cyber attacks during 2016 – each. Every day small businesses, startups, growing concerns and sole traders see cyberhackers try their best to hit their company, with various aims. Some of the attacks opened up money and data, while others take an IoT approach, attacking connected devices such as networked security cameras.
In addition, the analysis suggested that the number of inbound threats from unique IP addresses increased fivefold throughout 2016, suggesting that cyberhacking is a growing business; more people see the potential rewards and are dipping their toes into the murky waters, covering their tracks as they do so.
So what can we do about these multiple, deadly attacks, that are bombarding our computer systems repeatedly? Clearly we’re having some successes in defending our business, otherwise our entire industry and economy would regularly collapse under the weight of these attacks, and that obviously doesn’t happen.
Firewalls, Antivius, and Anti-spyware
Most of us know of firewalls, antivirus and anti-spyware software; we regularly change our passwords to make them more complex, and review our security settings. We rely on vps host teams to monitor our site’s SSL security and for support teams to tackle any problems instantly, no matter what time they occur. Cloud technology can heal itself and utilise multiple points of failure, so that problems with hardware do not necessarily disrupt services.
And, where possible and relevant, we try to keep our computer systems updates to download the latest security patches and protection. Saying that you didn’t know what would happen is no excuses – MPs were warned about the potential problems for the NHS system, and look what happened there.
The WannaCry Ransomware has highlighted a few areas in security where customers can tighten their defenses against malware today. Much of this advice relies on basic security hygiene while others bring in new tools that can assist with defending against WannaCry and other malware of its kind. For additional information about WannaCry and how to protect yourself, download this free whitepaper: WannaCry Ransomware: Steps to Protect Yourself.
Contact CCSI today for more information about protecting yourself from ransomware.
Author Bio: Ben Campbell is an accomplished, experienced freelance writer and web security expert who has featured in a number of high profile publications and websites. If he’s not writing about protecting your website you’ll find him listening to live music or at the coast surfing.
Ben Campbell is a guest blogger, all opinions are his own