Over the weekend I.T. managers and their teams as well as various government ministers all over the world were having sleepless nights after the cyber version of World War 3 took place. The WannaCry ransomware had gone global in a spectacular way and more attacks are expected this week as a second version of the WannaCry ransomware was launched last Friday afternoon, which is expected to cause more chaos this morning when businesses turn on their computers.
The cyber criminals who released the WannaCry ransomware were mainly targeting computers using Windows XP which still has a big enough user base resulting in the chaos which started last Friday but it’s worth noting that other Windows OS’s were affected too. Microsoft had ended mainstream support for Windows XP on April 14th, 2009 and extended support ended on April 8th 2014 and they have released security updates for Windows XP SP2 x64, Windows XP SP3 x86, Windows XP Embedded SP3 x86, and the other affected Windows OS’s Windows Server 2003 SP2 x64, Windows Server 2003 SP2 x86, Windows 8 x86, and Windows 8 x64.
One of the biggest sectors affected worldwide is the health sector and eHealth Ireland has been very quick to ensure no major issues will occur.
— Richard Corbridge (@R1chardatron) May 14, 2017
So what can you do to mitigate any disruption to your computer systems?
- Make sure that all your computers have no access to external communications.
- Make sure that all your computers have the latest Windows updates.
- If you are still using Windows XP, its time to upgrade to a new OS.
If you can’t update to a modern OS because you are using legacy software, there is a free solution that will help. You can install a virtual machine on any of your computers and this will allow you to run OS’s such as Windows XP in a closed sandbox. Oracle have a great free product called Oracle VirtualBox which includes cross-platform support and works on all versions of Windows 10. VirtualBox is quick and easy to setup and all you will need is ISO images of any operating systems and software that you want to use on your virtual machine.