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In May of this year, the world suffered at the hands of the largest ransomware cyberattack on record, as ‘WannaCry’ infected computers across the world. Following the fortunate, even if accidental, ‘switching off’ of the ransomware, companies have started to recover – and talks have turned to how we can prevent the same from happening again.

WannaCry – also known as WannaCrypt – is a type of cyber threat known as ransomware. The danger behind ransomware lies in its ability to encrypt files and demand users pay a fee, under threat of data deletion. On Friday May 12th 2017, WannaCry wowed cybersecurity experts by infecting over 200,000 computers in 150 countries via a Windows vulnerability, causing significant disruption to the likes of Nissan and the NHS in the process.

shutterstock_524611735 (1)The NHS was the UK’s most high-profile victim of the attack, with WannaCry forcing sixteen hospitals to cancel operations and appointments. Rather surprisingly, the panic ended when Marcus Hutchins, an IT expert from Devon accidentally found the virus’ killswitch.

With so much attention thrown on the situation and many experts chiming in on how it could have been prevented, spotlight has shifted towards what WannaCry means for cybersecurity. Now the dust has settled, it’s clear that there are big changes on the horizon.

More Training and Education

One of those changes is the push for cybersecurity to be available earlier and more regularly in pupils’ academic careers. It’s become clear over the last few decades that cyber threats will continue to become more frequent and sophisticated in nature. What sets WannaCry apart is the consequences of important infrastructures being undermined by cyberattacks.

Serving as an example, WannaCry is likely to inspire more training and education on the subject, with the hero of the hour, Marcus Hutchins, choosing to donate his $10,000 (£7,800) reward to fund educational resources.

shutterstock_152123315 (1)The idea of pushing cybersecurity as an educational topic is not new. Back in February, the BBC reported on a five-year pilot which will see teenagers spend up to four hours a week learning about cybersecurity. However, such a high profile attack is likely to firm up these plans, reassuring educators and MPs that it’s a topic worth teaching.

Systems Need Updating

Cybersecurity needn’t start with complex lessons about computing for future generations. As discussions take place across the professional world, businesses have much to learn and need to respond sooner rather than later. Experts are urging businesses to take better precautions, such as ensuring the latest operating systems are in place and that data is backed up.

This is especially poignant in the wake of WannaCry, as it transpired that Microsoft released a patch only a few weeks earlier, which could have mitigated much of the damage wrought by WannaCry. Those using Windows XP however – such as the NHS hospitals – would have been left vulnerable regardless, perfectly illustrating the need to upgrade end of life software in good time.

The onus for education also lies with IT and software firms. Kaleida, for example, works with clients to produce an infrastructure planning strategy to ensure that requirements are met and systems are up to date. This insight can help prepare businesses and provide them with the level of understanding needed to navigate modern threats.

Centre of Attention

One thing can be said for cybersecurity, following the WannaCry attack: it’s now very much at the front of people’s minds. Following the attack, investments in the area have grown as businesses and organisations begin to spend more on keeping their systems safe. Wall Street woke up almost immediately to cybersecurity firms experiencing a stock boom.

shutterstock_642825985 (1)WannaCry has had an undeniably profound effect on cybersecurity, pushing it into the public domain and encouraging businesses to think more seriously about how they protect their IT systems and data.

What’s more, there’s potential for the cybersecurity landscape to be forever changed as a result, with a greater focus on education and ethical hacking as a means to protect future generations and their data.

In that instance, cybersecurity really is becoming the first – and maybe even the last – line of defence between us and digital threats.

Kaleida provides bespoke software development, cloud services, infrastructure planning, and much more to keep our clients’ requirements met and their data secure. To find out more about any of our services, simply get in touch to speak to a member of the team.

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