The need for urgent collective action to keep people safe online: Lessons from last week's cyberattack Brad Smith
Posted in: Legal & Security at 15/05/2017 21:08
Early Friday morning the world experienced the year’s latest cyberattack.
Starting first in the United Kingdom and Spain, the malicious “WannaCrypt” software quickly spread globally, blocking customers from their data unless they paid a ransom using Bitcoin. The WannaCrypt exploits used in the attack were drawn from the exploits stolen from the National Security Agency, or NSA, in the United States. That theft was publicly reported earlier this year. A month prior, on March 14, Microsoft had released a security update to patch this vulnerability and protect our customers. While this protected newer Windows systems and computers that had enabled Windows Update to apply this latest update, many computers remained unpatched globally. As a result, hospitals, businesses, governments, and computers at homes were affected.
All of this provides the broadest example yet of so-called “ransomware,” which is only one type of cyberattack. Unfortunately, consumers and business leaders have become familiar with terms like “zero day” and “phishing” that are part of the broad array of tools used to attack individuals and infrastructure. We take every single cyberattack on a Windows system seriously, and we’ve been working around the clock since Friday to help all our customers who have been affected by this incident. This included a decision to take additional steps to assist users with older systems that are no longer supported. Clearly, responding to this attack and helping those affected needs to be our most immediate priority.
At the same time, it’s already apparent that there will be broader and important lessons from the “WannaCrypt” attack we’ll need to consider to avoid these types of attacks in the future. I see three areas where this event provides an opportunity for Microsoft and the industry to improve.
As a technology company, we at Microsoft have the first responsibility to address these issues. We increasingly are among the first responders to attacks on the internet. We have more than 3,500 security engineers at the company, and we’re working comprehensively to address cybersecurity threats. This includes new security functionality across our entire software platform, including constant updates to our Advanced Threat Protection service to detect and disrupt new cyberattacks. In this instance, this included the development and release of the patch in March, a prompt update on Friday to Windows Defender to detect the WannaCrypt attack, and work by our customer support personnel to help customers afflicted by the attack.