2017 2nd Quarter Commentary –
WHAT IN THE WORLD IS “WANNACRY” RANSOMWARE?
In 1988, the first computer plague was developed – a small program written as an experiment by computer scientist, Robert Morris, Jr. This plague, or worm, effectively shut down the internet. This was done inadvertently.
In a more recent development, cybercriminals are beginning to attack via ransomware and Bitcoin. Using malicious content, the hacker infects your computer and encrypts its contents. The hacker then demands that you make a payment via Bitcoin in order to get your computer information released back to you.
The most recent version of ransomware to dominate the media, WannaCry ransomware, was released over the weekend of May 13th-14th. This program took advantage of a software flaw in Microsoft Windows. Microsoft fixed the problem with a software patch in March, but users who had not updated their software were still vulnerable. By Monday, May 15th, businesses, hospitals, and government agencies in 150 countries had been affected. Current estimates are that nearly 1 million individual terminals worldwide had been hit.
At Financial Professionals, Inc., we have been pro-active about protecting client information. We have worked very closely with our Broker Dealer, Cambridge Investment Research, to protect all information shared between us. All investment companies we use must meet the same strict standard for cyber security or they cannot participate with Financial Professionals, Inc.
All information on our computers is backed up in multiple locations, so it can be retrieved if destroyed on the originating computer. Our systems are password protected and passwords must be changed frequently. We have contracted with an information technology (IT) firm to monitor our systems constantly. That firm contacted us as soon as the WannaCry ransomware attack was discovered and advised us of things we could do to better protect our computer systems and client information. We hope that each of you may find the following list helpful as well:
- Reboot your computer at least once per week overnight. When you reboot, Microsoft updates are installed by your computer. You may want to reboot nightly if there is a general cyber-attack.
- Do NOT disable anti-virus/anti-malware software.
- Ensure all Windows systems are current on their patch status, particularly MS17-010.
- Have a data back-up procedure in place.
- Do NOT click on suspicious emails or attachments. When in doubt – throw it out!
Financial Professionals, Inc. has never been hacked. Please be assured that we take every reasonable precaution to protect your personal information.
Sources: The Wall Street Journal, NetStandard email on 05/15/2017, Cambridge IT Department Security Team