Lessons from the WannaCry Ransomware Attack

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The mid-May WannaCry “ransomware” virus affected more than 100 countries, including South Africa. It showed that these types of attacks can be spread incredibly quickly and that we can expect similar incidents in the future.  And experts warn that a new cyber-attack (“Adylkuzz”) is already underway.

What should we do to protect ourselves?

  • Old software like Windows XP is particularly vulnerable (the reason the National Health was shut down in the UK is that their MRI machines run on Windows XP). Windows 10 has to date been unaffected. Use an up-to-date operating system and software (particularly anti-virus software).
  • Off-site back-ups are now more important than ever – if you can quickly access your backed-up data you only suffer the inconvenience of recapturing the current day’s data. The WannaCry attack only asked for ransom money to unlock files but there are no guarantees you will ever see your data again no matter what you do and the virus is capable of permanently wiping out all of your data.

Directors and management: The significance of vigilance and care as new virus threats emerge

Computers have become integral to our daily activities. It is not surprising that, as the risks posed by Information Technology (IT) grow, it has become a growing focus of Boards and senior management.

In the King Governance Codes, a whole section is dedicated to managing IT. The Companies Act gives directors and senior managers wide powers to run the business but it also makes them accountable. They need to show due care and be informed when managing the company. Civil liabilities can result should these duties not be adequately performed. IT management is important to a business and care and effort need to be exercised.

Computer criminals are getting more brazen and sophisticated, so be prepared.