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It makes you wanna cry!

i wanna cry
Demystifying the latest ransomware attack.

Thousands of organisations in over 150 countries, with an estimated 200,000 affected computers, continue to contain and clean up the mess from the recent WannaCrypt (or WanaCry) ransomware attack. We are still hearing about the aftermath with terrible stories of cancelled hospital operations, re-routed ambulances and requests to avoid emergency departments in the UK. It’s scary stuff.

We all shudder at what this might mean for the digital space, and indeed humankind.

But as someone whose goal it is to de-mystify technology for my clients, I’d like to share my take on it with you.

These types of attacks are like a feeding frenzy for the media. Their training in emotive language becomes evident during these moments and the result is widespread fear and even panic.

Well, here’s the story if I had written it:

Organisations across the world continue to ignore the threat of cyber security breaches by not keeping their anti-virus software or their business software up to date. Oh, and they are ignoring the fact that the biggest threat to cyber security is actually their staff, so they aren’t training them on basic security protocols either. How ridiculous in this day and age!

Here’s a quick lay-person’s guide to the current global cyber security attack:

  • The gaps in security that were exploited by the attack were discovered weeks ago
  • Microsoft quickly released ‘patches’ to fix these holes
  • The virus was spread by employees opening email attachments in environments that do not have appropriate software updates or are using older versions of Windows which are no longer supported by Microsoft.

Doesn’t sound that sensational, does it? I’m not sure I could sell it to Reuters for much though.

So rather than be afraid when you hear these stories, get informed and take preventative action.

Here’s a few tips:

  • Even in a small business – recognise the need for cyber-security and develop a multi-layered strategy to address it (liaise with your IT service provider if you outsource)
  • Utilise cloud software to take advantage of ‘real time’ updates
  • Enforce password security protocols
  • Train your people in the ways they can be safer online
  • Have a plan for the worse-case scenario (but not by creating paper copies of information).

This week, when you hear that a farm in Russia can’t harvest its corn, sorghum and wheat crops and the world is facing a Vodka shortage (my worse-case scenario), take a deep breath look past the sensationalist reporting and take action.

Were you prepared for or affected by the Wana attack? How did you take action? I’d love to hear your experiences…

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