The threat of Cyber Attacks
2017 has been a turbulent year for Information Security. Anyone in IT can tell you that the threat of cyber attacks is serious. As evidenced by the Wannacry virus and attack, It’s more important now than ever to regularly backup and update your computers.
Just a month ago, the Wannacry virus infected over 300,000 computers running the Windows operating system and was thwarted – only by chance when a researcher accidentally discovered the ‘kill switch’. While the full extent of damage isn’t exactly known, we can’t rely on getting lucky to thwart these cyber attacks. Today, a similar but new virus named Petya made headlines. So what exactly happens when #Petya infects your computer though? The virus encrypts your entire hard drive and presents a lock screen with instructions on how to pay $300 in bitcoin to unlock your computer. Many criminals prefer being paid in Bitcoin as it’s nearly impossible to track. Once you make this payment, you’re directed to email address to request an unlock key. Unfortunately for those affected, even if you pay the ransom – There is no way to access your files. The email address associated with Petya has already been suspended, so there is no way to receive the unlock key needed.
As of 6/27 9:00pm PST, there’s an estimated $10,100 in payments made to the Petya accounts.
When the Virus infects your computer, it completely encrypts all of the files on your computer. This is particularly devastating to large companies because it’ll stop all productivity in it’s tracks.
Over 80 companies have reported being affected by the virus. One of the majorly impacted companies by the Petya virus is the shipping giant, Maersk. According to Maersk, their communications has been disrupted and their online booking services have been taking offline. 76 port terminals are experiencing delays and while the delivery times of their shipments don’t seem to be affected. One Expert estimates that they’ll be looking at a loss of $700 million each week their systems are down.
The full extent of the damage caused by the Petya virus is yet to be seen, but many companies are reporting outages and service disruption. Some companies like UK’s WPP have taken the public stance of downplaying the viruses role in stopping service. However, The damage isn’t just limited to global businesses. One of the most heavily hit countries, Ukraine has experienced major downtime with disruption affecting ATMs and banking institutions to Airports. Hackers infected everything from the infrastructure to government ministries, Microsoft reports that over 13,000 computers are infected in Ukraine alone. Photos shared by citizens on social media show a crippled infrastructure. Ukraine government officials have described this as the most serious cyberattack in the country’s history.
Luckily, it looks like this second wave of Wannacry virus infections is only limited to large companies and governments outside North America. While we shouldn’t relax just yet, there are still many precautions to take. Ensuring that you have the latest updates and patches for your Windows operating system is one of the most basic and important things you can do. Microsoft released a patch ( MS17-010, Get it here ) to directly patch the vulnerability used by the Wannacry and Petya viruses. Another important step to take is regularly making backups of important files. That way, if you do become affected, it’s only a minor setback. If you need to upgrade your IT equipment, consult with us to see what options might suit your company the best.
If you’re looking to further understand these ‘randsomware’ viruses, look no further than our friends over at Pixel Privacy.