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What’s next for cybersecurity after the ransomware attack?

Posted: 15 May 2017 | | No comments yet

Frost & Sullivan, the growth partnership company, explains why the recent ransomware attack could be a sign of things to come…

What's next for cybersecurity after the ransomware attack?

The recent ransomware attacks, which spread to 150 countries affecting 200,000 people, could be the first stage in an escalating threat to global cybersecurity, according to growth partnership company, Frost & Sullivan.

“Last week’s large scale ransomware infection is a clear sign of the escalating challenges facing cybersecurity,” explained Vijay Michalik, Industry Analyst, Digital Transformation at Frost & Sullivan. “In the biggest ransomware outbreak so far, over 100.000 computers are believed to have been infected from Russia to Taiwan, including in institutions such as Telefonica, FedEx, Deutsche Bahn and the NHS.”

It is highly likely that a new strain will appear…

While only around 100 victims of the attack have actually paid the $300 ransom, it is a frightening sign of what might happen next. As Frost & Sullivan explains, while a ‘kill switch’ was found to halt this particular attack, it is highly likely that a new strain will appear without this flaw. The kill switch, found in this instance by a cybersecurity researcher called MalwareTech, doesn’t decrypt the files that are already compromised, and it doesn’t appear that the encryption has its own exploitable flaw.

The ransomware is a variation of Wana Decryptor, explains Frost & Sullivan, a strain which emerged two weeks ago. The growth partnership company says that the ransomware’s rapid success is attributed to exploiting a Windows vulnerability which hasn’t been patched across all systems. Several key figures, including Edward Snowden and Microsoft, have levelled fingers at the NSA.

The NHS was revealed to have thousands of computers still running on Windows XP, which hasn’t been supported by Microsoft since 2014

The NSA’s data on the exploit was publicly leaked by a hacker organisation known as the Shadow Brokers before the NSA provided to the vendors details for them to patch it. Last year, the NHS was revealed to have thousands of computers still running on Windows XP, which hasn’t been supported by Microsoft since 2014. The failure to update operating systems and applications is another key factor to the ransomware infection in the UK. Given the high profile nature of this vulnerability, Microsoft has released a security patch for its older systems to protect them.

The rise of ransomware can be attributed to the proliferation of easy-to-use ransomware tools, and ransomware-as-a-service on sale in the cybercrime underworld. These can be easily customised and have helped create a growing list of successful attacks which generate revenue for the perpetrators.

Frost & Sullivan believes we are nearing an inflection point in cybersecurity across both government and the private sector, although key barriers remain such as lack of technical understanding and reticence to invest. Businesses need to invest heavily to match the growing threat of cybercriminal activity, in each of technology, internal security personnel and training of general staff to identify and avoid threats. Key sectors such as healthcare will be pressured to adapt by governments if they will not do so of their own volition, with an annual growth rate in healthcare cybersecurity of 13.6% in the US alone.”

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