In August, last year I encountered two separate instances of the Cryptolocker Virus. Although not for the first time, it prompted me to conclude in my article here the following month that, ‘these threats are going to become even more prevalent in the coming years and will probably become, in one way or another, the primary data security threat that we will face.’
The now ubiquitous ‘WannaCry’ ransomware variant made international news headlines last month on the back of its viral proliferation in our private and public services networks and localised infections over the globe. The following working day I wrote a quick email to my customers reminding them of the most important prevention and data security measures. These were to be on guard for suspicious emails; don’t click on suspect links or attachments. If in business and in doubt then check with your IT support. Check that all Operating Systems and Anti-Virus are updated. Finally, ensure a backup is in place and operational.
A lot has been made of the point that Windows XP is the problem and that the NHS is running off old XP kit. This probably isn’t the case. Windows 7 is the most likely OS to be affected by the WannaCry variant due to its mass appeal with around two thirds of business machines running the OS and its older ‘Windows Update’ process. This process, in large office networks is often governed by a server that in turn is governed by an IT department. The security patch for Windows 7 that would nullify the infection was released a couple of months before the event unfolded; putting it on a to-do list oh-so-near the top of an in-tray heap.
Keep in mind that this threat is an urgent reminder of the importance of backup. With Cryptolocker, the encrypted files cannot be recovered.