WannaCry ransomware has limited impact at MIT | Forum

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Information Systems and Technology staff is
working with community members to secure
devices against the Microsoft Windows-
targeting system.

Jessica Murray Information Systems and Technology
The ransomware program WannaCry, launched on May
12, targets the Microsoft Windows operating system.
While this malware has infected over 200,000 computers
worldwide, the attack affected around 100 computers
across the 50,000 devices on the MIT network.
This limited impact is due to the many security services
provided to the community by MIT Information Systems
and Technology (IS&T).
“MIT values an open network to foster research,
innovation and collaborative learning,” says IS&T
Associate Vice President Mark Silis. “We continuously
strive to balance potential security risks with the
benefits of our open network environment by offering a
number of security services to our community, including
Sophos anti-virus, CrowdStrike anti-malware, and
CrashPlan backup.
“IS&T staff are working with faculty, staff, and students
to secure their devices and address any remaining
issues related to WannaCry. In the weeks ahead, our
department will continue to educate and advise the MIT
community.”
A post on the CISCO Talos blog provides in-depth
technical details about the WannaCry ransomware attack.
Preventive measures
IS&T strongly recommends that community members take
this opportunity to make sure their Windows machines
are fully patched, especially with the MS17-010 Security
Update. Microsoft has even released patches
for Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server
2003, which are no longer officially supported.
In addition, IS&T recommends installing Sophos and
CrowdStrike. These programs successfully block the
execution of WannaCry ransomware on machines where
they have been installed. A third program, CrashPlan, is
also recommended. This cloud-based offering, which
runs continuously in the background, securely encrypts
and backs up data on computers. Should files be lost
due to ransomware or a computer breakdown, restoring
data is straightforward.
IS&T offers these three programs to the MIT community
at no cost and can help with installation questions. The
department also encourages users to enable operating
system firewalls on computers and laptops.
Getting help
Community members who believe their computers have
been infected with WannaCry can contact the computing
support staff in their department, lab, or center or the
IS&T Service Desk.
As always, IS&T asks community members to be on
guard against sophisticated phishing email messages
designed to fool recipients into clicking on a malicious
link or opening an infected attachment.