Will the WannaCry ransomware push your IT strategy forward?

A huge attack is in the headlines, and your boss is probably asking about it. There’s been plenty of commentary already, so I’ll ask a question: Will this incident unlock budget for IT projects?

Unless you’ve been away from all your devices since Friday morning, you know that the WannaCry ransomware attack has hit 200,000 computers in 150 countries, according to Europol. We’re still not in the clear yet, but the analysis is in full force.

If need to get up to speed, as well as a little bit of ransomware background, here’s the best take I’ve found, via Troy Hunt. If you were directly affected by WannaCry, or if you spent the weekend at work installing patches, I hope everything is going okay.

All around the world, IT leaders are getting emails from business leaders asking if their company could get hit. (And in the next few months, a thousand marketing pitches will bloom, as well.)

There’s a bit of finger pointing and debating going on, aimed variously at Microsoft (though many people in the industry believe it’s a bit misguided) and at the NSA.

Of course, much of the matter comes down to individual organizations and typical things like patching, upgrading OSes, having effective backups, segmenting networks, and locking down machines.

I don’t know whether to be relieved that the answer is as simple as “stay current and patched” or to be discouraged. Because as easy as it is to say that, we all know that in world of challenging applications and budget constraints, this just doesn’t always happen. We also know all of the security implications. We wrote several years worth of articles about migrating off of Windows XP proving both of these points. (Microsoft even issued a public patch for Windows XP and Server 2003.)

Anyway, there’s been plenty of commentary about WannaCry already, so instead, I have a question: Will this headline spur your organization to release more budget for IT projects, and if so, which ones? SaaS adoption? Better management tools? New security products? Application modernization, or even just upgrades? Migrating to Windows 10? I know we have a lot of readers with a lot of experience and points of view, so let’s hear it in the comments.

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Wondering what the VDI experience has been in terms of limiting the impact of WannaCry.
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Also, here's some good commentary from James Rankin (@AppSenseBigot) http://www.htguk.com/wannacry-strikes-groundhog-day-security/?es_p=4171134# with a dive into past experiences with worms.
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I'd love to say that this will push IT forward, at least in terms of getting off unsupported OSes, but all the responsible organizations have already moved off of XP. Those that thought they could lock things down via policies and the network are finding out they're wrong (unless part of their process was to turn off SMB at the OS level or across the entire internal network).

Still, there are many responsible organizations that run XP for legitimate reasons. They always come down to something like "specialized equipment" or "the design is certified to operate for 30 years," but even then those organizations pay for ongoing support and take steps to prevent problems.

Apparently, though, there are enough Windows XP users out there that Microsoft felt compelled to make a patch. It's easy to think "well, yeah, they should, it's their bug," but they washed their hands of XP THREE YEARS AGO after extending support to give people time to get off.

The update from Microsoft should indicate what a humongous problem this is. I wonder if we'll see future patches for other things that were in the NSA leaks for unsupported OSes.

The reality of the situation is that there are tools out there that can prevent the impact of ransomware like this, but they only work on modern operating systems. Sometimes, like in this case, the modern OS is enough to prevent it. So it's time for anyone, not just companies, running Windows XP to get off of it or pull the plug.

I'm sorry, but if you got bit by WannaCry, it's probably due to a bad decision somewhere along the line. In the future it might not be, but this one could have largely been prevented.


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