Last week marked the biggest cyber-attack ever witnessed. Through the use of tools stolen the USA’s National Security Agency; criminals were able to infect an estimated 200,000 computers. And, the affected machines aren’t just in the hands of civilians; they were in the hearts of some of the biggest organisations in the world. With over 150 countries having issues, focus has been turned to the UK’s NHS. The NHS has been impacted more than anyone else. But, security experts don’t think this should have been the case. This post will be going through exactly what could have been done by the NHS, and loads of other organisations, to avoid an issue like WannaCry.
But, first, it’s important to understand why this virus has caused so many issues. WannaCry is ransomware. This means that it holds your files to ransom; until you pay the organisation behind it. The tool in question was developed by the NSA, in America. But, it was unfortunately stolen earlier in the year. In response to this, Microsoft updated all of it’s operating systems going back to XP. But, unfortunately, far too few computers running this system were updated. And, that’s what gave the virus its chance. So, simply updating your computer is enough to remove the threat of this virus. This has raised a lot of scrutiny over whether or not the computer systems within organisations like the NHS are good enough. But, when it comes to networks and systems so large; there’s never an easy fix.
The NHS has millions of computers out there. With wings in hundreds of different countries; this organisation has a massive task when it comes to IT. Updating all of their systems with even a system update could cost millions. And, updating their all of their resources to a newer operating system will cost even more. Most of the software the NHS uses is proprietary. This means that they have to develop their own software to do their work. When they change to a new operating system; this software has to be made again. Most importantly; this all takes a lot of time. And, it’s impossible to predict an attack like this. So, even knowing another one could be around the corner; it’s very hard for anything to be done.
Of course, solving an issue like this will always take a lot of time and effort. Most of the employees at the affected companies aren’t computer experts. So, help is going to be needed to make changes in the future. Most companies will use a CMMS system to handle regular maintenance and updates within their company. No doubt, the NHS will already use something like this. But, their current procedures will be in store for a shake-up. Along with this, it wouldn’t be surprising if the NHS started picking up more technical and programming employees for the new work. The next few months could bring many more attacks. And, their impact will depend on the ability of companies like the NHS to adapt to growing pressure.
Hopefully, this will give you a good idea of the last few days chaos on the internet. This sort of attack is unprecedented in the modern world. As of yet, nothing like this has happened before. So, time will only tell what will come of these events.