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Business urged to block WannaCry as Honda halts production
Posted by Thang Le Toan on 22 June 2017 07:44 AM

Businesses are being urged to ensure that they are not vulnerable to WannaCry ransomware after a vehicle manufacturer discovered an infection on its networks

Honda has revealed that it halted production of its vehicles in Japan on 19 June, a day after discovering a WannaCry infection on its networks.

Production was halted at Honda’s Sayama plant, northwest of Tokyo, after the firm discovered that WannaCry ransomware had affected networks across Japan, North America, Europe, China and other regions despite efforts to secure its systems in mid-May, according to Reuters.

Production at other plants operated by Honda had not been affected, and regular operations had resumed at the Sayama plant on 20 June, the company said.


Honda’s discovery comes almost six weeks after WannaCry first emerged on 12 May 2017 and subsequently infected more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries.

Although attribution is difficult, Symantec said in May that tools and infrastructure used in the WannaCry ransomware attack had strong links to Lazarus, the group responsible for destructive attacks on Sony Pictures Entertainment and the Bangladesh Central Bank.

In June, an alert notified the US computer emergency response team (US-Cert), which then confirmed Symantec’s assessment after the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) identified one of the tools used in the WannaCry attack as DeltaCharlie. The tool is part of a suite of North Korean malware tools classified by the DHS and FBI as “Hidden Cobra”, also known as Lazarus Group and Guardians of the Peace.

WannaCry seeking victims

As with most malware, even after the initial impact of a public or global strike, WannaCry is still working its way around the internet looking for victims, said Mark James, security specialist at Eset.

“In this case, when malware uses exploits in common or older versions of MicroSoft Windows, many large manufacturers that use bespoke or embedded systems with software that may not be easily or quickly replaced could be teetering on the edge of disaster frantically trying to protect themselves,” he said.

James warned that it takes only one slip from the hundreds of thousands of employees connected to a network of computers that often has to connect worldwide to enable a smooth global operation.

“Of course keeping your systems up to date with the latest updates and patches, and ensuring you have a good and regular updating internet security product, will help to keep you safe, but educating your staff on the dangers of using the very tools we need them to use for their daily workloads is just as important,” said James.

An ongoing battle against cyber threats

Having been hit in other plants during May, Honda took steps to protect themselves at the time, but it is a continuing battle against emerging threats, said Andrew Clarke, UK director at One Identity.

“It is important in industrial plants, where there are often embedded computer systems, that patches are applied promptly and across all systems,” he said.

“Often, due to the complexity of change, it takes some weeks or months to bring all systems up to date. Of course, it is not just Microsoft that needs patching – all manner of systems need to be assessed and updated.”

Gavin Millard, technical director at Tenable said to reduce the probability of being infected by ransomware or a targeted attack using the same vulnerabilities, continuous visibility into the vulnerability status of every asset in the modern computing environment is critical in reducing the available attack surface. 

“Just patching these bugs isn’t always simple as it could cause disruption to the organisation. If that is the case, then compensating controls must be put in place and proper, risk-based decisions must be made. If you can’t patch it, protect it, and if you can’t do either then prepare to pay,” he said.

Tips for securing systems

Responding to the news about Honda, Duncan Hughes, A10 Networks’ systems engineering director for Europe, said organisations should consider six best practice recommendations:

  1. Download the latest patches: Update your operating system to the latest version and install all patches – doing so regularly will ensure your machine stays safe from unwanted malware and other vulnerabilities that attackers tend to exploit.
  2. Beware of phishing emails: While it’s uncertain whether WannaCry uses phishing to gain a foothold on target machines, many ransomware attacks use phishing emails that contain a malicious link or attachment that will infect your machine. Avoid clicking or opening any such attachment.
  3. Back up your files: Regularly create and keep secure backups of your most important files and data. If your machine becomes infected, you can easily restore your data.
  4. Use up-to-date antivirus: Ensure you have the most up-to-date version of antivirus software that can thwart the latest types of viruses and worms, such as ransomware attacks.
  5. Instil a security culture: Introduce and encourage a culture of cyber security diligence in your organisation. Enforcing simple tasks such as locking work stations, securing laptops, using strong passwords and alerting employees about phishing scams and other attacks can help prevent the spread of malware through an organisation or network.
  6. Have a defence-in-depth strategy: A10 Networks encourages using best-of-breed systems for robust security and defence against the evolving threat landscape. Having multiple layers of security increases the chances of catching and eradicating malware such as WannaCry before it has the opportunity to wreak havoc. A multi-layered defence will also mitigate the risk of any single device being compromised and being rendered ineffective.

Read more about WannaCry

  • Computers running Windows 7 accounted for the biggest proportion of machines infected with the WannaCry ransomware, while NHS suppliers are blamed for hampering patching by NHS trusts.
  • Security advisers are urging organisations to patch their Windows systems to avert a possible second wave of an unprecedented, indiscriminate ransomware attack.
  • A failure by many organisations to take cyber security seriously has long been blamed on the lack of a single significant event to shake things up.
  • WannaCry reveals some important facts about our dependence on the internet and IT.

Read more »

Cyber security image putting women and girls off, says panel
Posted by Thang Le Toan on 04 November 2016 03:24 AM

There is still a lot of work to be done to change the perception of cyber security and corporate culture to attract more women to the profession, according to a panel of security professionals

The image of cyber security and the people who work in the profession is putting women and girls off from considering it as a career, according to a panel of women working at Intel Security.

“We need to change the way the profession is perceived and emphasise that it is about helping and protecting people,” said Lynda Grindstaff, speaking at Intel Focus 2016 in Las Vegas.


“Few people understand that cyber security provides opportunities to work for the common good both now and for future generations,” she said.

Appealing to women’s “help gene” could be very helpful in attracting them to cyber security, said Celeste Fralick, adding that it is important to engage girls as young as possible on the opportunities that exist.

“Schools have an important role to play in ensuring that girls feel comfortable taking subjects traditionally regarded as being mainly for boys, such as maths and science,” said Lisa Depew.

“When there are only one or two girls in a maths class, schools need to ensure that they do not feel isolated and alone, and it can be challenging to get girls through that at a time in their lives when they are going through so many changes. But if we lose them at that point, it is difficult to get them back,” she said.

Educating girls and women is only part of the solution, said Depew. “We also have to change security culture in organisations to ensure that there are incentives for women to join and that it is easier for women to see and take up the opportunities,” she said.

“Generally there is no obvious incentive, and the perception again is that cyber security is purely technical, but we have to show that it is also about working creatively and working collaboratively in teams to solve problems, said Depew.

Grindstaff advised recruiters to use their professional networks to raise the awareness of the profession and to identify potential candidates in other professions or other parts of the business.

Inclusive environments

Even when women are able to overcome the barriers to working in cyber security, the panel said another common problem is ensuring that they remain in the profession. Retention is almost as great a challenge as attracting them in the first place, they said.

Once again, it is a cultural challenge inside organisations, said Depew. “Many organisations are failing to understand what motivates the people in their cyber security teams and consequently failing to keep them because they are not made to feel as if they are valuable members of the team,” she said.

Organisations need to pay more attention to creating a more inclusive environment, said Grindstaff. “It is not only important to manage external perceptions of the profession, but also to work internally to change people’s ideas of what kinds of people can do well in cyber security,” she said.

For example, Fralick said she had been recruited into cyber security by Grindstaff who saw her potential because of her skills in analytics.

“I have a PhD in biomedical engineering, but Lynda [Grindstaff] helped me to realise that my skills were portable and that I could learn everything I needed to know about cyber security,” she said.

Read more about women and information security

On the question of skills retention, Fralick said it is important – particularly with younger recruits – to ensure that they have the freedom they need so that they do not become bored or frustrated.

“There is so much to learn and to explore, but we need to think about giving young recruits the freedom they need to keep them interested,” she said.

Fralick said although the gender bias is beginning to fade, she said it is still mainly up to women to take the first step to becoming accepted by their male colleagues.

“I still read the sports page simply so that I can keep a dialogue going with my male colleagues. I still need to be mindful of being inclusive of them and not to expect them to be inclusive of me,” she said.,%20says%20panel_&utm_source=EDA

Read more »

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