In May 2017, the world of information security was rocked by a massive ransomware attack spreading across global networks and impacting critical data infrastructures such as the IT systems of public health departments and mass transportation agencies.
Lessons for Local High Desert Businesses
There are many aspects of the WannaCry attack that business owners in the High Desert should consider:
- First of all, this was a ransomware incident, which means that it can be substantially mitigated with the right backup and recovery solution in place. In 2017, a business in Apple Valley, Hesperia or Victorville should have the means to recover from a ransomware attack without having to make dangerous payments or risk losing customer information.
- Second, the origin of WannaCry is very troublesome. The intrusion method and the worm mechanism were designed by the United States National Security Agency, which means it is a powerful weapon of cyber warfare. The reason it was used to spread ransomware is that the NSA was either hacked or sabotaged; a dangerous collection of exploits was obtained by a shadowy group known as the Shadow Brokers, who are suspected to be connected with Russian intelligence operatives.
- Third, WannaCry could be the beginning of a painful period in the history of enterprise IT security. The NSA cyber weapons leak has not been the only one of its kind. WikiLeaks, the controversial platform for anonymous whistleblowing, has published information about cyber exploits and hacks used by the Central Intelligence Agency; although the actual CIA code has not been leaked, there is no assurance that it will not happen in the future.
- Finally, business owners should realize that this is the new world of enterprise insecurity we live in. Protecting business networks and customer information has become more important than ever. Ransomware is just one threat; network breaches, identity theft, corporate espionage, and insider attacks are more likely to happen now that hackers have access to the same tools used by the NSA and CIA to ply their trade.
In the end, the WannaCry attack fizzled because the perpetrators failed to tie loose ends, but this only means that other cybercrime groups are learning from this mistakes and could be planning a similar attack.