News is breaking that Preston’s city council has had to defend its systems every single day against a barrage of cyber attacks. After WannaCry and NotPetya, organisations are having to increase their defences to avoid their systems being crippled. IT security experts commented below.
Javvad Malik, Security Advocate at AlienVault:
“Cyber criminals will look for the path of least resistance depending on their objective. For example, criminals looking to make money via ransomware will simply try to compromise as many devices as possible. Whereas those looking to obtain personal information will be more targeted in their approach.
Councils not only hold a lot of data on individuals, but are sometimes targeted due to their often-outdated IT systems.
As Preston city council has demonstrated, adequate staff training can go a long way in improving the overall risk posture, however, training along will not solve the problem, as it is impossible to bring the number of users that fall for phishing down to zero. Which is why it is important to have monitoring controls in place that can detect where threats have bypassed security and users so that the right response can be taken at the right time.”
Paul Norris, Senior Systems Engineer (EMEA) at Tripwire:
“The barrage of cyber attacks experienced by Preston city council is yet another example of the growing threat posed to organisations today.
In light of the devastation caused by the NotPetya and WannaCry attacks, enterprises have started taking notice of their security defences but more needs to be done and this starts with getting the basics of security hygiene right.
For many organisations, not just councils, it can be difficult to prepare or visualise a cyber attack, especially if they haven’t experienced it before.
Organisations need to understand the unique risks posed to their environments and this requires conducting regular, preferably continuous, assessments of configuration and vulnerability risk across all IT systems. Then ensure systems are regularly patched and upgraded.
This will not only make the systems secure but also, it makes the attackers’ job more difficult. Adopting basic security hygiene is key to reduce the attack surface.”