After WannaCry: Cybersecurity training tips

by Brett Henebery06 Jun 2017
The May 12 global cyberattack, commonly known as the ‘WannaCry ransomware attack’, was a massive wake-up call to organisations everywhere.

In the aftermath of the attack, some have warned that another such attack is only a matter of time.

So what can organisations do to prepare in the meantime?

Alex Manea, security director of technology giant, BlackBerry, told L&D Professional why the WannaCry attackers were able to exploit computers around the world with near impunity, and what can be done to guard against future attacks.  

“The WannaCry hackers leveraged vulnerabilities within the Windows operating system that were patched by Microsoft back in March,” he explained.

“Specifically, the hackers targeted unpatched Windows 7 or 10 systems that were a couple of patch cycles behind for whatever reason.

Manea said this included Windows XP systems, which are no longer supported by Microsoft.

“So firstly, I would recommend making sure that staff everywhere have all of their systems up to date,” he said.

“Across almost all organisations, there are two levels of cybersecurity training; there is theoretical training, and then there is practical training.”

Manea said theoretical training is about sitting staff down and discussing ways to prepare for and avoid any cyber threats.

“Most organisations do a fairly decent job of this, but I would like to see a greater focus on hands-on practical training,” he said.

“One way to do this is by using ‘white hat’ hackers and having them attack a system the same way that external hackers would.”

He said that this process can uncover certain things that theoretical training cannot.

“People training is not just about telling them not to click on unknown links from unknown sources – it’s about doing things like sending out phishing-type emails to our users and see how many of them click on it,” he said.

“This is a practice that BlackBerry has been employing as a training method. We found that over time, as we do this more and more, our staff get better at it and click on these emails less and less.”
The Verizon 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report, released one week before the WannaCry cyberattack, warned that organised criminal groups were escalating their use of ransomware to extort money from victims.
This year’s report saw a 50% increase in ransomware attacks compared to last year.
Chris Tappin, Senior Consultant – Computer Forensics Expert at Verizon Enterprise Solutions, told L&D Professional that the biggest call to action to come out of the report was for organisations to take a proactive rather than reactive approach to information security.
Tappin says learners should be provided with training around keeping their accounts and devices secure. This includes safety tips (such as phishing awareness) as well as how to report when they have been targeted.
And the need to be more proactive about cybersecurity training is a point in which Ly Tran, BlackBerry’s Senior Vice-President of APAC strongly agrees.
“The lessons I’ve learned by watching the market and our customers become successful is that those who become the most resilient in times of unexpected threats are those who are the most proactive,” he said.
“In this environment, where everything is connected and where threats are unlimited, defending against them becomes a reactive situation, so leaders need to be proactive.”

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