Security Central: Microsoft Issues Patches, WannaCry Sparks Wake-up Call
This week’s cybersecurity news centers around a now well-known strain of ransomware that has wormed its way into many a network. The WannaCry bug has caused widespread chaos and concern, causing a lot of organizations to batten down the security hatches. Microsoft is one such organization.
Back in May, the tech giant released patches for the WannaCry ransomware for Windows XP, even though the operating system is no longer officially supported. Last week, according to Wired, the company followed up with about a dozen additional patches that cover other old systems including Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 8, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Server 2003 R2. Poor Microsoft – they really can’t seem to shake the ghosts of operating systems past.
“In reviewing the updates for this month, some vulnerabilities were identified that pose elevated risk of cyberattacks by government organizations, sometimes referred to as nation-state actors, or other copycat organizations,” said Adrienne Hall, general manager for the Cyber Defense Operations Center at Microsoft, in a blog post. “To address this risk, we are providing additional security updates along with our regular Update Tuesday service.”
Microsoft made sure to clarify that it is not reinstating support for these outdated operating systems, but it does want to take “action to provide additional critical security updates to address vulnerabilities that are at heightened risk of exploitation due to past nation-state activity and disclosures.” The worry there, though, is that efforts to anticipate/thwart bugs like WannaCry using patches may give some users an excuse not release their death grip on these archaic systems.
Thus far, there hasn’t really been a sense of urgency behind this. But, considering the current threat landscape…. it’s time to embrace the upgrade, guys.
Microsoft urges companies to apply the patches as soon as possible. Folks using supported platforms with automatic updates enabled, such as Windows 10 or Windows 8.1, do not need to take any action.
Our second story further proves that WannaCry is still very much a force to be reckoned with. This week, Honda was forced to shut down production for one day at its Sayama plant near Tokyo after discovering that the WannaCry ransomware had infiltrated its computer network.
According to a Honda spokesperson (as reported by Forbes), about 1,000 units were not produced as planned at the plant when WannaCry attacked several older production line computers, causing them to shut down. Honda discovered that the virus had infected networks across Japan, Europe, North America and China, despite measures taken to secure its systems back in mid-May when WannaCry first wreaked widespread havoc across the globe.
Jonathan Penn, Director of Strategy at AVAST Software, states that this should be a huge light bulb moment for businesses, as well as an opportunity for the channel. “Last month’s global WannaCry attack was – or at least should have been – a wake-up call that security should be proactive, not reactive,” says Penn. “Planning ahead is even more critical when business operations are at stake. Companies must be aware of the tools and resources available to them to secure their networks and ensure business continuity.”
Penn notes that this is a key opportunity for the channel, as security-as-a-service solutions can automate the critical but time-consuming job of deploying, managing and monitoring security services such as patch management, network management, backup and reporting. Many have advanced antivirus integrated right into the delivery platform, making it even easier for IT to secure networks.
Our last story takes a look at the recent Republican National Committee (RNC) voter data breach, which has exposed the information of 198 million Americans due to an unsecured public storage cloud account. CBS News reported that Deep Root Analytics (the RNC’s analytics firm) confirmed in a statement Monday the files had been accessed without their knowledge.
According to Dana Simberkoff, Chief Risk, Privacy and Information Security Officer at AvePoint, the voter breach confirms that there is absolutely valid concern about the security or hackability of e-voting systems. “This stems mostly from concerns about the core foundational elements of a good voting system – specifically anonymity, accuracy, security, and scalability,” says Simberkoff. “While voting systems need to be able to fully maintain the anonymity of voters, it’s also critical to be able to validate the accuracy of cast votes – which is almost impossible to do without an audit and paper trail.”
Simberkoff also states that these machines and systems are also connected devices, allowing for many potential points of failure from both a security and scalability perspective. “A single error in a line of code may cause catastrophic results. And there are simply no systems imaginable that are entirely and utterly breach proof.
The takeaway from Simberkoff/in general? We must consider both the security and integrity of the machines themselves, and then the ways in which they transmit data as potential points of vulnerability.
The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of Penton Media or The VAR Guy editorial staff.