The WannaCry ransomware attack spread so quickly and has been so disruptive that IT departments can’t get enough information about what caused it, how it can be remediated and what can be done to protect their organizations from similar threats. This thirst for insights, explanations and best practices was evident during the Q&A portion of our recent webcast “How to Rapidly Identify Assets at Risk to WannaCry Ransomware.”
It didn’t have to happen.
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,” Mark Butler, 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.