Initial reports indicate the hacker or hacking group behind the WannaCry campaign is gaining access to enterprise servers either through Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) compromise or through the exploitation of a critical Windows SMB vulnerability. Microsoft released a security update for the MS17-010 vulnerability on March 14, 2017. Additionally, Microsoft released patches for Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003 operating systems on May 13, 2017. According to open sources, one possible infection vector is via phishing emails.
Ransomware not only targets home users; businesses can also become infected with ransomware, leading to negative consequences, including
- temporary or permanent loss of sensitive or proprietary information,
- disruption to regular operations,
- financial losses incurred to restore systems and files, and
- potential harm to an organization’s reputation.
Paying the ransom does not guarantee the encrypted files will be released; it only guarantees that the malicious actors receive the victim’s money, and in some cases, their banking information. In addition, decrypting files does not mean the malware infection itself has been removed.
Defending Against Ransomware Generally
Precautionary measures to mitigate ransomware threats include:
- Ensure anti-virus software is up-to-date.
- Implement a data back-up and recovery plan to maintain copies of sensitive or proprietary data in a separate and secure location. Backup copies of sensitive data should not be readily accessible from local networks.
- Scrutinize links contained in e-mails, and do not open attachments included in unsolicited e-mails.
- Only download software – especially free software – from sites you know and trust.
- Enable automated patches for your operating system and Web browser.