Do You WannaCry?

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Are you one of the more than 200,000 users in over 150 countries that WannaCry today?

On May 12, the WannaCry ransomware began infecting computers around the world. This malware infects systems, encrypts user files, and demands a payment of about $300 within three days.

If the user doesn’t pay within 3 days, the ransom doubles to $600.

If the user doesn’t pay within 7 days, the attackers threaten to delete the files forever.

This is enough to make a lot of people wannacry.

While the FBI and other law enforcement officials encourage people not to pay these ransoms, some estimates indicate that as many as half the people infected do pay.

If half of the infected users (100,000) pay the $300 ransom, this nets the attackers $30 million in less than a week.

It’s also worth noting that the number of infected users continues to climb.

Can You Answer this Question?

The following practice test question (taken from the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide) is highly relevant to this attack. Do you know the answer?

Q. A recent risk assessment identified several problems with servers in your organization. They occasionally reboot on their own and the operating systems do not have current security fixes. Administrators have had to rebuild some servers from scratch due to mysterious problems. Which of the following solutions will mitigate these problems?

A. Virtualization

B. Sandboxing

C. IDS

D. Patch management

You can view the full answer and explanation at the end of this post.

WannaCry is 100 Percent Preventable

This attack was 100 percent preventable if users followed one simple security practice – keep systems up-to-date with current patches.

WannaCry exploits a known vulnerability in Windows systems. Microsoft released a security update for this on March 14, 2017. Systems that had this security update installed were NOT vulnerable to this attack.

However, many users don’t recognize the importance of keeping their systems up-to-date so skip this practice.

Microsoft stopped support for older Windows systems such as Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003. Some people chose not to update their operating system, and if they were running one of these older systems, they were vulnerable. However, Microsoft recently took the unusual step of creating updates for these legacy operating systems.

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Just Don’t Click

This is a message that many people don’t seem to understand:

One click is all it takes to infect an unprotected computer.

In this blog post, I outlined the process some advanced persistent threats (APTs) have used to infect computers. They send a spear phishing email to users with a malicious link. If the user clicks, it can sometimes start a drive-by download that installs malware on the user’s computer without the users knowledge.

I frequently get emails that look like they are from friends or family, but are malicious.

As an example, imagine my friend Lisa Simpson just posted on her Facebook about a new saxophone she bought. I then like her post. Attackers now recognize a relationship between us and craft an email that looks like it is from Lisa Simpson

——————–

From: Lisa Simpson

Hey Darril,

Check out this link. I think you’ll like it. 

Lisa

——————-

Imagine I know that Lisa’s email is lisa@simpson.com. However, if I look at the actual email address that this is from, I’ll see that is something completely different such as doyou@wannacry.com.

However, uninformed users may easily click on the link.

As another example, I recently received an email that was sent to hundreds of people in a Meetup group. The text was:

Hey! I’ve found some information that may be helpful for you…

It looked suspicious to me and I sent a note to the Meetup organizer encouraging him to warn people not to click the link. I mentioned “Anyone that clicks it may inadvertently download malware onto their system.” I don’t think he believed me. He sent a not to everyone stressing that he didn’t send it, but didn’t include the warning.

One last example. Nextdoor.com allows people to join neighborhood groups and share information with each other. One user posted information on a secret shopper program that she heard about and wanted to share with others. She later posted an apology for sharing the link because she now understood it was malicious. Also, others in the group later said that WannaCry ruined their day.

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Q. A recent risk assessment identified several problems with servers in your organization. They occasionally reboot on their own and the operating systems do not have current security fixes. Administrators have had to rebuild some servers from scratch due to mysterious problems. Which of the following solutions will mitigate these problems?

A. Virtualization

B. Sandboxing

C. IDS

D. Patch management

A. D. Patch management procedures ensure that systems are kept up to date with current security fixes and patches and help eliminate problems with known attack methods. For example, patched computers are not vulnerable to this version of the WannaCry ransomware.

The scenario indicates that these systems have been attacked, exploiting the vulnerabilities caused by not patching them.

Virtualization will have the same problems if the systems are not kept up to date.

Sandboxing isolates systems for testing, but there isn’t any indication these servers should be isolated.

An intrusion detection system (IDS) might identify some attacks, but the systems will still be exploited if they aren’t patched.

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