Cyber-attack: Steps to better IT Security

 

Following the International Cyber Attack over the weekend of May 12th 2017, we thought it might be a good moment to talk  about the importance of updating your IT systems.
Whilst the risk to home users is considered low in this particular strain, it’s a welcome reminder that we must all be vigilant in our activities online and off.

This recent attack  involved a ransomware virus called ‘WannaCrypt’ . Ransomware is a malicious program that locks a computer’s files until a ransom is paid to release them. This type of malicious program allows cyber criminals to accumulate vast amounts of money via bitcoin, in a relatively short period of time.  

The virus specifically affects machines running Microsoft Windows Operating systems.
Microsoft has blamed governments for storing data on outdated software with vulnerabilities which could then be exploited by hackers, using a flaw in Windows that was identified by and stolen from, US intelligence.  

On 14th March 2017, Microsoft released a free security update to patch this vulnerability,  unfortunately many users did not apply the update. 

As designers, Rocketbox are often required to produce content that will display well on legacy operating systems / software versions. Not only is this frustrating from a visual compliance point of view, it’s also concerning that so many users are still using such outdated systems which have not be bolstered by updates or security patches.  Software which, in some cases, is more than 10 years old!

Recent events and more general visual compliance issues, make a strong case for us not supporting legacy software in future, perhaps limiting the development of content to the 3 most recent versions only (as standard)… Food for thought.

Is my computer at risk?

In short, yes.  Users that fail to update their operating systems or do not take care when opening and viewing emails, potentially, put their system at risk. 

As stated on the BBC News website:
You can protect yourself by running security updates, using firewalls and anti-virus software and by being wary when reading emailed messages.
Regularly back up your data so you can restore files without having to pay up should you be infected as there is no guarantee that paying the ransom will result in your files being unlocked “

On their own website, Microsoft say; 

“As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, there is simply no way for customers to protect themselves against threats unless they update their systems. Otherwise they’re literally fighting the problems of the present with tools from the past. This attack is a powerful reminder that information technology basics like keeping computers current and patched are a high responsibility for everyone…. “

They suggest ‘The need for urgent collective action to keep people safe online’ –  Read more about this from Microsoft here

3 Steps to better computer safety:

1 – Update Windows
2 – Update or Install  reputable anti virus software and regularly run a full system scan
3 – BACK UP your files. You can’t be held to ransom for files you have stored elsewhere.

10 Steps to Cyber Security from the NCSC

A helpful infographic about cyber security from the National Cyber Security Centre website
Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 11.23.30

In summary, Keeping your system updated, using current virus protection, regularly backing up your data and taking care when opening emails are all simple steps you can take to protect you and your wider network from attack.

You can find further information and the latest statement on international ransomware cyber attack from the National Cyber Security Centre, here >>