Why is Patching so Important? WannaCry Virus Infects Over 100 Countries

June 8th, 2017 by admin

A world-wide ransomware attack swept across the globe last Friday infecting over 100 countries and leaving companies reeling. The virus attacked a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows. The patches for this weakness had been released by Microsoft months prior to the attack but due to out-of-date systems many companies were infected and forced to pay a ransom for access to their data. This powerful cyberattack proves once again the immense importance of keeping your patching up to date.

Reporters are referring to last Friday’s cyberattack as the largest ransomware attack to date. On May 12th, the virus that has been named “WannaCry” used a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows to spread ransomware to over 100 countries. The infected computers would display a message that said “Oops, your files have been encrypted.” Companies were threatened to pay $300 in bitcoin for the data or risk having their information be deleted. According to ABC News, “experts estimated that before the last affected computers are unlocked, victims could collectively pay more than $1 billion to the attackers.” That’s not only a lot of money, but also a lot of victims. ABC News listed some of the largest victims including “FedEx in the United States, railroads in Germany and Russia, factories and phone companies across Europe. Among the worst impacted by the historic attack unprecedented in its breadth was Britain’s Public Health Service.” Over 45 healthcare facilities in Britain were forced to suspend operations and surgeries to their patients. Because of the attack’s wide spread to over 100 countries and its impact on Britain’s Health Service, people are referring to this ransomware attack as the worst in history. VIPRE Security confirmed that the weakness in Microsoft Windows that allowed this ransomware to take over had been patched by Microsoft back in March 2017. If these companies would have been up to date with their patches, they would have been protected from the attack.

What is patching and why is it so important?

According to Techopedia, “A patch is a software update comprised code inserted (or patched) into the code of an executable program. Typically, a patch is installed into an existing software program. Patches are often temporary fixes between full releases of a software package.” If you’re looking for a definition in English, here you go: When companies come out with a software release, the code for that software may contain “holes”, security vulnerabilities, or back doors that hackers can enter through. As companies (like Microsoft) discover these “holes” they provide patches, usually in the form of an update, to cover those holes and provide increased security. If you are on top of installing those patches, you are as protected as you can be. If you aren’t on top of installing those patches, you could become a victim of one of the largest ransomware attacks to date.

1-LINK Automated Patching

Here at Equinox, one of our clients heard about the massive attack, and concerned about his security, contacted us for a patching report. We were not only able to show them the status and details about each computer that we manage, but also able to show that every active computer they owned had a healthy patch score (including the patch from Microsoft released earlier this year that prevents this attack.) Due to our patching practices, 100% of our 1-LINK customers were protected from this cyberattack. As part of our 1-LINK plans, our clients have an entire team of technicians who manage their automated patching and backups. We make sure that our clients patches are up to date and also monitor our client’s technology daily to ensure their protection.

Are your computers safe?

Two of the best practices you can take to ensure that you technology is secure are:
  • Make sure that all of your software is up to date – don’t just click ignore on every pop-up about an update because they can be annoying. Those patches are there to protect you.
  • Test your backups to ensure that you are able to recover your data from a disaster. And by that we mean reallytest them, don’t just assume that because you have backups you can restore them.
These practices will not only help protect you from future ransomware attacks but also provide you the means necessary to recover from them if necessary.

Posted in: Protection, Security, Tech Tips, Case Studies