Recently the world has been subject to a prolific ransomware virus which has infected thousands of computers in hundreds of businesses, costing millions of dollars. In one particular instance in the UK, the WannaCry ransomware attacked the British National Health Service locking 200,000 computer systems and demanded £230 in Bitcoin from each screen.
The ‘WannaCry’ virus was not spread through ‘phishing’ emails as was first thought but rather through old and unpatched Microsoft operating systems. This means that the bug was able to spread regardless of how vigilant users were.
What does ransomware do?
There are different types of ransomware. However, all of them will prevent you from using your PC normally, and they will all ask you to do something before you can use your PC.
They can target any PC users, whether it’s a home computer, endpoints in an enterprise network, or servers used by a government agency or healthcare provider.
- Prevent you from accessing Windows.
- Encrypt files so you can't use them.
- Stop certain apps from running (like your web browser).
Ransomware will demand that you pay money (a “ransom”) to get access to your PC or files. We have also seen them make you complete surveys.
There is no guarantee that paying the fine or doing what the ransomware tells you will give access to your PC or files again.
How big is the ransomware problem?
Ransomware is a global problem. The US, Italy, Russia, Korea, and Spain saw the most ransomware encounters in 2016.
After exploding in the past couple of years, ransomware encounters seem to have begun to decline. However, this trend is not a reflection of the email and exploit kit campaigns that try to install ransomware on computers. Rather, it is a sign of better blocking of attacks by security software like Windows Defender Antivirus. All in all, millions of computers still encountered ransomware in 2016.
We’re still seeing significant amounts of email that carry ransomware downloaders. A total of 500M of these emails are being sent out every quarter. The email attachments reach millions of computers, but a lot of them are blocked from downloading and executing ransomware.
In 2016, over 200 ransomware families we tracked. Over half of these families were discovered only in 2016, which means that cybercriminals are constantly releasing new ransomware in the wild. Cerber and Locky were the most prominent ransomware families in 2016.
What Can You Do
Move your OS to Windows 10 IoT
The more current your operating system is, the more protected against cyber-attacks you will be. Windows 10 IoT has Windows defender built in to detect attacks in advance and create patches to cover over any possible breach risk. Assured Systems is a Microsoft Partner and integrator of Windows operating systems. We can provide new hardware for almost any solution and integrate the latest Windows 10 IoT operating system corresponding to your application requirements.
Windows 10 IoT offers a range of versions depending on your requirements and hardware configurations. For customers wanting a full Microsoft operating system for use with x86 computers, IoT gateways, thin clients and servers, Assured offers the full suite of Windows 10 IoT solutions. Microsoft have changed the licensing policy for Enterprise users (replaces Windows 7 Embedded) and now they offer much better value for low power embedded processors such as the Atom and embedded Celeron range – read more here.
Further Defense with McAfee Security Solutions
McAfee works to construct safe online environments and networks which are truly integrated and therefore open to potential threats. Assured can supply McAfee to protect against zero-day attacks via it’s white-listing solution and provide fast scanning and threat updates with their blacklisting solution. Talk to our sales team about integrating security features on your embedded systems.
About Assured Systems
Assured Systems is a leading technology company offering high quality and innovative applied computing solutions to the embedded, industrial, and digital-out-of-home markets across the world. Offices in North America and Europe mean our reach is truly global. Our impressive product portfolio includes a full range of Fanless Embedded Computer Systems, IoT Gateways, Data Collection Systems, Digital Signage & Multimedia Computer Systems, Touchscreen Panel PCs, Human Machine Interfaces, & Vehicle Mount Computers. Please call us on +44 1785 879050 (EMEA) or +1 864 421 6991 (Americas) to talk to us about your application.