On Tuesday, a variant of the ransomware “Petya” began propagating in several countries across Europe. This new variant leverages the EternalBlue exploit used in WannaCry, and also takes advantage of misconfigured permissions to spread throughout the network.
EternalBlue is a leaked exploit developed by the NSA that leverages the vulnerability patched in MS17-010. All unpatched versions of Windows are vulnerable to EternalBlue, excluding recent versions of Windows 10. Microsoft has also chosen to release patches for some end-of-support versions of Windows.
That’s the simple yet profound lesson from WannaCry’s ransomware rampage that has infected 300,000-plus systems in more than 150 countries, disrupting critical operations across industries, including healthcare, government, transportation and finance.
If vulnerable systems had been patched and maintained as part of a proactive and comprehensive system configuration and vulnerability management program, the attack would have been a dud, barely registering on anyone’s InfoSec radar.
“WannaCry was totally preventable with the proper patching and the proper build configurations,” Qualys’ Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) said during a webcast this week. “That’s a reminder to all of us that you didn’t have to be a victim.”
There are various workarounds for mitigating the underlying WannaCry vulnerability, but those are stopgap measures. “The primary way to remediate this vulnerability is through disciplined and timely patching,” Qualys Product Management Director Jimmy Graham said during the webcast, titled “How to Rapidly Identify Assets at Risk to WannaCry Ransomware.”
In what may be the first public weaponizing of April’s Shadow Brokers dump of NSA exploits, a ransomware attack has crippled IT systems globally and disrupted operations at major organizations, including patient services at UK hospitals.
About 80,000 infections have been detected in about 100 countries at the time of this writing, and the attack, which uses the WannaCry (WanaCrypt0r 2.0) ransomware, continues to spread.