In today’s world, you either keep yourself updated with the latest technological innovations around the globe or be left far behind in every sphere of life. That is what the modern digital environment is all about.
This week’s global online extortion attack WannaCry that left many businesses reeling from its effects has only strengthened the case for a fool proof firewall to ward off any such future attempts. In a first of its kind, this cyber attack focussed largely on out-of-date operating systems such as Windows XP for which Microsoft has stopped its technical support. This more than emphasises the need for businesses to keep their systems updated with the latest software and firewalls.
By any standards, WannaCry has been a more than average violent attack on networks. It has swept through 150 countries over a weekend with users finding themselves locked out of systems that would only be operational again if a heavy ransom was paid to the hackers. The bait used was to click on infected email links that in turn opened attachments that were infected. WannaCry is a cut above other similar attacks in the past because of its reach. Even if one user clicked on a link the virus would spread to other computers and infect the system.
How is it possible for the digital world to protect itself from such attacks?
Make backups – Making backups is an option and that too multiple backups of important files to cloud services and physical disk drives at regular intervals. You can also do this on a drive that is not connected to the network.
Update systems – WannaCry had attacked outdated systems and was largely successful because systems had not been updated. It is therefore crucial to update and patch your systems to lower risks and vulnerability to such forms of hacking.
Install antivirus software – While not a fool proof solution against recently evolving viruses, such software will at least protect your network from known ones. However, antivirus software today though usually very effective is generally days behind detecting new malware.
Train your computer specialists – If your workforce is trained to be suspicious of questionable links and attachments, half your worries are taken care of. System administrators can compartmentalise the network and ensure that employees do not have access to areas of the system that is not necessary for their work.
A word of caution here, if you have been locked out of your system and there is a demand for ransom, it is advisable that you turn it down. Not only will you be funding nefarious future activities of malicious hackers, there is also no guarantee that all your files will be restored.