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Blog | May 17, 2017

Wannacry? our predictions for what's coming next

Last Friday, a massive ransomware attack struck organizations in at least 100 countries. The attack, named WannaCry, exploited code from the NSA and ransomware paired with a worm to hold more than 200,000 machines at ransom, demanding payment from its victims in exchange for their files.

In today’s webinar, we shared our latest findings on WannaCry and provided some additional context around the short-term implications of the attack – including the possibility of new WannaCry variants and reuse of the DoublePulsar backdoor. We then offered our forecast for what this could mean for the future. Here’s a re-cap.

Our Post-WannaCry Predictions

Patch hygiene will improve

We’re hopeful that organizations will significantly alter their continuous patch hygiene. Microsoft has even released new emergency patches for Windows XP and 2003, which speaks to the seriousness of the event and the risk of deploying out-of-date operating systems in production environments.

More Shadow Brokers disclosures

We haven’t heard the last of the Shadow Brokers. The hacking group claims to have more tools and information that have been stolen from the US Intelligence Community. As they expose new “cyber weapons” that are being adopted by opportunistic threat actors, all of a sudden everyone is at risk.

More variants of WannaCry

TheWannaCry story will inspire a new set of attacks. They won’t all necessarily be ransomware, but it remains to be the most hyper-productive model for cybercriminals in terms of monetizing attacks.

Worms exploiting broad vulnerability + hostile payload: IoT

Knowing how quickly worm-based attacks can do massive damage, there is potential for physical damage to infrastructure as we move to IoT. This becomes something that we have to decide how we’re going to manage risk. The lack of focus or preparedness for IoT cybersecurity puts everyone at increased risk.

Fragility of the infrastructure and limited human involvement

With infrastructure that is globally connected and the challenge of patch management, fast-spreading threats can cause massive damage. Especially to embedded systems where there is not ongoing support for vulnerabilities. Plus, future attacks will involve less and less human intervention.

Collaboration is essential

There’s an attack vs. defense asymmetry in that it’s really easy to for attackers to attack, and really difficult for organizations to respond. Organizations will be on their own, unless they start to build out their trust circles and collaborate on how to defend against threats.

This could have been the next Caribbean Crisis

We have to be mindful about attributing attacks to specific geographies or state-entities. In this case, officials have stated that Russia was considered to be the most attacked. But if we think that a political opponent will retaliate, that could mean cyberwarfare against everybody.

How to Protect Your Organization Against Future Attacks

As we shared in the webinar, the best way for organizations to significantly reduce their risk is to harden their security posture. Start by ensuring these best practices are part of your overall cybersecurity approach.

  • Reduce your threat surface. Apply current patching to all assets, especially internet-facing services, configure IPS and firewall policies to reject information gathering events and enforce acceptable use policies. Understand the data you house and back it up regularly. Test your back-ups and consider the recovery time objective (RTO) of a restore.
  • Consider your partners and vendors. Ask your third-parties what controls they have in place and expect your vendors to align with the same policies that your organization adheres to.
  • Educate your employees. Deliver regular security awareness training that helps them understand the hallmarks of common threats and what to do if they come face to face with a threat like ransomware.
  • Embrace Managed Detection and Response. Prevent new and fast-moving moving attacks from reaching their target by enhancing your cybersecurity approach. Managed Detection and Response (MDR) works in concert with traditional prevention-based technologies like firewalls and antivirus to identify, investigate and respond to attacks in real time.

We used to see longer periods of time between big attacks, which gave organizations time to detect, analyze and remediate the threat accordingly; establish or reinforce cybersecurity best practices; and frankly, get back to work.

But now, with the steady increase in the cadence of attacks, cybersecurity must become engrained in daily business operations. From actively monitoring security alerts to enacting new internal policies, progressive organizations are prioritizing the problem to protect not only their data, but their bottom lines.

Wipe Away the Tears and Take a Closer Look at WannaCry

With new insights from CTO, Mark McArdle and Director of Threat Intelligence at eSentire, Viktors Engelbrehts, the webinar provides an in-depth explanation of the following:

  • What we know about the initial infection, as well as new and patched variants
  • The DoublePulsar backdoor that may be opening your network to new threats
  • The importance of patch hygiene and vigilance in protecting your information
  • Why endpoint forensics technologies are essential in detecting threats and vulnerabilities
Katie Windley

Katie Windley

Content Strategist

Katie is a content strategist on the Marketing team at eSentire. With a background in B2B marketing and communications, Katie helps drive the company narrative via engaging and informative content.