Could the WannaCry Ransomware Attack Have Been Prevented?

By now, you’ve probably heard about the WannaCry ransomware attack. This attack was the largest of its kind in the history of the internet. This unprecedented attack affected people in more than 150 countries around the world. More than 200,000 individuals were affected, as well as more than 10,000 organizations. The systems of large organizations like universities, hospitals, telecoms, and even government agencies were infected by WannaCry.

For small business owners, the news of such a large ransomware attack is scary. While WannaCry was stopped, hackers will continue making new types of ransomware. You need to learn how to protect your business from future attacks of malicious software. But was there any way the WannaCry attack could have been prevented? Here’s how the WannaCry ransomware attack, and other ransomware attacks, could have been prevented.

Not Using Unsupported Software

Software companies can’t provide support for their products indefinitely. Every product has a lifecycle. Over time, as new products are released, they stop supporting the older versions. They don’t provide any more automatic fixes or updates for their outdated products. They need to focus their resources on their newer products.

In the case of WannaCry, Microsoft released a patch for its supported operating systems months before the attack occurred. People who were using the newer operations systems, like Windows 8 and Windows 10, received free patches. Windows Vista and Windows 7 haven’t received mainstream support since 2012 and 2015, respectively, so users couldn’t get free updates.

Applying Operating System Patches on Time

While Microsoft released patches for its supported operating systems before the attack occurred, not everyone installed the patches. Individuals who didn’t update their systems were left vulnerable to the WannaCry worm. If they’d updated their systems, they would’ve been protected.

Installing updates isn’t fun, and it can be time consuming. When you’re busy running a business, it’s easy to fall behind on updating your operating system. However, installing these updates needs to be a priority. When you keep your operating system updated, you’re protected from known security vulnerabilities. If your operating system is out of date, your business’s data is at risk.

Updating Vulnerable Applications

Outdated, unpatched operating systems aren’t the only thing that makes your business vulnerable to ransomware. If your software isn’t up to date, you’re vulnerable. The WannaCry attack didn’t take advantage of outdated computer software programs, but other types of ransomware do. To prevent other types of ransomware attacks, everyone needs to keep their applications updated.

When companies release patches for widely used software, malicious hackers get to work to create exploits. It can take as little as 24 hours for criminals to create exploits for software. This is why it’s essential to update your software as soon as patches become available.

When you have a lot of software on your computer, updating everything can be a hassle. You need to update everything from your customer management software to your inventory software to your order software. To make it easier, use an omni-channel cloud-based ERP solution to manage all aspects of your business in one place. The cloud vendor updates the solution for you, which gives you one less thing to worry about. This is one of the benefits of using cloud-based computing services.

Using Anti-Virus Software

Many people still aren’t using anti-virus software. Twenty-eight percent of Windows Vista PCs are unprotected, and so are over 20 percent of Windows 7 PCs. Windows 10 users are more likely to be protected, but the unprotected rate is still 3 percent: too high. If you don’t have any anti-virus software installed, or if your subscription expired, malware and other malicious software could infect your computers.

During the WannaCry attack, the anti-virus company Symantec reported that it blocked almost 47 million infection attempts. If more people used anti-virus software, and kept it updated, they would’ve been protected. To protect your business, use anti-virus software. Update it regularly, and conduct regular scans to protect your computers.