5 Reasons Why WannaCry’s Cyber Attacks Create a Nightmare for the Corporate World

5 Reasons Why WannaCry’s Cyber Attacks

Create a Nightmare for the Corporate World

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This week’s cyber attacks were a (literal) shock to the system. Unexpected, global repercussions left few countries untouched, and everyone wondering – is this just the essence of the age we’re living in – that some foreign body can slip a bug into some innocuous email and hey presto they have our medical records detailing our (perhaps sordid) past?

It is indeed a terrifying prospect. How many links a day do you click on from your boss? How many zip file downloads in a week? It appears that despite whatever preventative measures you’ve put in place to stop hackers from getting on your computer, they’re able to get by them. What does this mean for business? Nothing really, apart from doomsday itself.

The reason attacks like this don’t get solved is because of a number of factors, the most compelling of which is victim co-operation. If a company reveals their system has been hacked, it can translate into a massive dive in stock prices requiring innumerable contingency plans to be put in place. Customer trust itself is invariably lost, and a steady dip in revenue will result until WannaCry have left the headlines and the PR nightmare is finally over.

Below are the reasons why hackers like WannaCry should scare the living daylights out of businesses everywhere. 

1. They have the ability to infect even the most complex and broad systems, such as Britain’s healthcare organization

All eyes are on the U.K after WannaCry got into what is one of the bedrocks of any country: its healthcare system. Locked out of computers and files, nurses and doctors within the NHS experienced difficulty carrying out even the most menial of tasks once the hackers got into their computers. There is speculation that because of the time it took to regain control of their entire network, lives were lost in the process. Like any healthcare provider throughout the world, the NHS is a business at its core. Having already been under scrutiny by the parties lobbying for favor in the upcoming British election, this cannot have been an easy week in the office for the IT department and those in PR, dealing with those whose information were too readily available for the hackers.

2. They don’t care who they’re targeting, hitting corporations big and small

The virus that infected the machines was called Ransomware, a malicious piece of software that blocks access to a computer system until a ransom is paid. One of the targets of the hack was Disney’s next movie release, Pirates of the Caribbean 5. Hackers threatened to post the forthcoming film online in segments unless Disney paid the ransom in bitcoin. Disney’s CEO Bob Iger has not budged, however, and refused to pay the ransom, instead working with federal investigators in the US. FedEx has also been hit in the US, but has said that it has “resumed normal operations,” and that its computer systems were healthy again.

In Asia, the situation seems less hopeful. More than 40,000 organizations were hit, 4,000 them academic institutions, including two of China’s most prestigious schools.

3. Their methods of monetary extraction are virtually untraceable, using the elusive bitcoin – making another attack a veritable promise

Bitcoin is a digital payment system invented by an unknown programmer, or group of programmers, under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. It was released in 2008 and has since been used in countless transactions within the ‘dark web’. The transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary, and as such cannot be traced because there is no third party involved. Once WannaCry had access to the computers they put up a ransom on the homepage requesting $300 via bitcoin for their computer to return to normalcy. ‘Following the money trail’ however does not apply here. Bitcoin, with close ties to North Korea, remains a stable monetary system. 

4. Unless every single victim owns up to the breach, the likelihood of these hackers being caught is very low

It can be hard to pinpoint the extent of disruption, since some companies don’t report the attacks for fear of potential damage to their corporate reputations. For some companies, it’s easier to pay the $300 ransom, and then move on. This makes it more difficult for a comprehensive investigation to be carried out using international agencies. Again, this is another opportunity for a hack like this to be carried out with as much ease and destruction. 

5. There were people and prevalent agencies that were aware this malware existed and did nothing to safeguard against such a breach

The Chinese government has placed the blame on the NSA for the attacks because apparently they had knowledge of the malware used to invade people’s computers. The U.S government and its agencies are meant to act as safeguards for the countries’ individuals and their corporations, and in this case, they majorly failed. What is the purpose of a security agency – if not to provide security? WannaCry have managed to expose a major hole in the so-called network of agencies charged with protecting the country’s corporate and economic infrastructure. The effect from this and governmental uncertainty in general was a sharp decline in the value of the dollar. All in all, it was a bad week for all in business here in the U.S.

Nasdaq confirmed the dollar dipped this week amid political uncertainty. Photo courtesy of Barrons
Amy Corcoran

Amy is an Irish writer, avid foodie and feminist with an insatiable appetite for novels and empowering women's writing. She has enjoyed calling Dublin, Paris and now New York her home.

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