The Global Cyber Attack: A Wake-up Call
The vulnerabilities of cyber security are exposed with this recent attack: more than 2, 00,000 computers have been affected in 150 countries within 2 days. The enormity of the cyber-attack through a malicious program-Ransomware has jolted us to take cautious steps when moving ahead with the digital technology. As being the part of our everyday life, with the crucial information stored in, the bigger question is how reliable is cyberspace. But the obvious argument against this will be isn’t the real-life space is vulnerable too. Yes, it is, but not at the level, that too without getting any warning symptom, and also the confidence with which we are shifting our belonging to a virtual space.
So, should we stop? No, not at all! All we need to do is to remain cautious when dealing with visitors on the cyberspace as the same way we open the door to a visitor at home. The Ransomware malware attack exposes us to our vulnerabilities, clearly signalling not to ignore the technology updates. Let’s us get the look of what happened.
The Attack and the Scale of the Attack
The latest malware outbreak has
occurred on a very large scale worldwide. It has been recognized as the
ransomware “WannaCry” (WanaCrypt0r 2.0), a malicious program that locks the
computer files, and refuses to provide the access until a ransom of $300 for
each machine is paid.
This malware is being spread via spam emails as attachments in the form of a malicious Microsoft Office document file or a Java Script file disguised as documents or an URL link. As you click on the link, it takes you to the malicious Ransomware site. Actually, the malicious Office file that you have opened contains a macro application with the malicious code. The Java Script of the file also contains the malicious code, which is obfuscated; allowing the malware to get downloaded and execute second-stage Ransomware variants.
The first reaction to the attack seems to come from the UK’s Nation Health Service, a health care system for England. Once the news spread, several organizations such as FedEx, Russian Interior Ministry, and Renault confirmed the attack. The latest figures revealed that around 2, 00,000 computers have been infected in 150 countries, just within two days and the number is still rising.
What Causes the Impact so Massive?
Though being a global cyber-crime, the major impact has been in the UK on the National Health Service. What made it so vulnerable? Among the many theories, one of them is many computers in the hospital is running on Windows XP, even after receiving warning from the government in 2014 to switch to the newer version.
A deeper investigation revealed that WannaCry virus infects only machines running on Windows operating system. The risk could have simply avoided if the computers have been updated. Additionally, the care should have been taken while reading email messages.
Is it stoppable?
MalwareTech, a UK security researcher registered the domain name to track the spread of the virus, which actually ended up halting it. However, cyber security firms have not ignored the chances of fresh attack, as it would not be difficult for the attackers to change the code.
Other than halting the attack, there is another way we could deal with these kinds of attacks: Preventive Measures.
How Could we Prevent Cyber-attack?
Complying with the following preventive actions can lower the risk of virus infection in machines. The preventive actions are:
- Do not open/read any email if the sender/subject is unknown. Do NOT open Office document file attachments unless specifically requested from the sender.
- · Validate the sender before opening attachments.
- · Since the mails are also targeted to group mail IDs, don’t trust the sender simply because it has been sent to many known.
- · Delete any unknown email received in your mail box. Don’t take the chance of opening of the mail.
- · Disable Macro in Microsoft Office applications if not using any macro enable file.
- · If you find any suspicious or abnormal behaviour in your system, quickly disconnect your system from the network.
- · Contact an IT person for further analysis.