WannaCry Ransomware Exposes Crisis of Unpatched Systems, Failure to Back up

Would it surprise you to learn that one of the most successful computer exploits in history happened against a vulnerability for which a patch already exists?

That’s just what happened with the WannaCry (also called WannaCrypt) ransomware attack that crippled hundreds of thousands of computers last Friday and continues to wreak havoc this week.

Microsoft noted:

On May 12, 2017 we detected a new ransomware that spreads like a worm by leveraging vulnerabilities that have been previously fixed. While security updates are automatically applied in most computers, some users and enterprises may delay deployment of patches. Unfortunately, the ransomware, known as WannaCrypt, appears to have affected computers that have not applied the patch for these vulnerabilities. While the attack is unfolding, we remind users to install MS17-010 if they have not already done so.

WannaCry uses remote code execution to breach a system, encrypt the data, and then demand a ransom be paid through Bitcoin, as nearly all ransomware since CryptoLocker and Breaking Bad have done. Making it even more devious, the exploit is worm-like, so it can crawl easily from one system to another.

“The worm functionality attempts to infect unpatched Windows machines in the local network. At the same time, it also executes massive scanning on Internet IP addresses to find and infect other vulnerable computers,” Microsoft explained.

Posted by Doug Barney
Doug Barney was the founding editor of Redmond Magazine, Redmond Channel Partner, Redmond Developer News and Virtualization Review. Doug also served as Executive Editor of Network World, Editor in Chief of AmigaWorld, and Editor in Chief of Network Computing.
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