Perhaps your organization survived the WannaCry ransomware attack unscathed, but don’t relax just yet, because this is just the beginning of the next wave of targeted malware attacks, say Luke Somerville and Abel Toro of Forcepoint. In the aftermath of the main wave of WannaCry attacks the two data security experts commented that “WannaCry’s ability to self-propagate marks somewhat of watershed moment in the evolution of ransomware.”
While previous ransomware attacks have relied on social engineering tactics via email campaigns, infected URLs and attachments, WannaCry spreads from machine to machine without any human assistance. Ransomware was already a simple form of cyberattack to execute, but this is form of attack has all the hallmarks of being the next big issue in information security, especially for healthcare organizations.
Somerville shared that “healthcare organizations have been a high priority target for ransomware attacks because of the critical nature of the data that is collected and stored by hospitals and clinics.” “Without access to EHRs, patient care is compromised so there’s a strong incentive to pay the ransom and restore access to clinical data,” Toro added.
Despite the grim outlook, especially with Britain’s National Health Service being ”patient zero” for the WannaCry attack, Sommerville and Toro are confident that CIOs in the healthcare field can effectively mitigate ransomware attacks.
Toro noted that CIOs will want to make key investments in next-generation technology, chief among them next generation firewalls (NGFW) and web and email security solutions. “These next-generation solutions enable organizations, even those with older software and operating systems to avert, detect, and remediate WannaCry-type attacks before they take hold,” said Toro.
However, even though WannaCry didn’t depend on users clicking on emails, both Toro and Somerville cautioned against seeing malware – even this new family of exploits – as only a technology problem. “Fundamentally, ransomware is an exploit that happens at the human point of interaction with critical data and intellectual property and is, therefore, best mitigated by a human-centric security approach,” said Somerville.
Regardless of whether the malware exploits system vulnerabilities or compromises employees with infected links, , on-going user education is essential. When user education is included as part of a layered defense strategy along with tools with NGFW, web and email security solutions, employees, the network and critical data are all protected, and patient care can remain the primary focus.
Are you ready to start preparing to meet the information security challenges posed by ransomware? You can download a comprehensive guide here.