Wannacry 2017: the aftermath

Ransomware is one of the fastest-growing types of cyber attacks. After the infamous WannaCry attack in May 2017, ransomware skyrocketed in popularity. However, five years on, where are we now and has the threat landscape changed? 

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware that locks down your computer and encrypts your files using an advanced algorithm, then demands payment for the decryption key. Ransomware usually comes in the form of an email attachment or link to an infected website (phishing), but it can also be installed through more traditional measures like infected USB drives. 

WannaCry 2017

WannaCry is a ransomware attack that started in May 2017 and infected hundreds of thousands of computers across the world. It made use of a vulnerability in the Windows operating system (OS), allowing it to move from computer to computer without detection by using an exploit developed by the National Security Agency (NSA). When WannaCry was released, most antivirus software failed to detect it because they weren’t updated with security patches Microsoft had released earlier that year. 

The aftermath of WannaCry left many businesses scrambling for solutions against this new form of cyber attack. As a result, the popularity of ransomware as a search term surged. Take a look at this Google Trends screenshot for proof. However, once the dust settled, you can see that the trend of searches resumed and has been steadily increasing since. 

WannaCry
Worldwide Interest Over Time for the Search term ‘Ransomware’ (Google Trends, 2022)

Changing Perceptions

Any time we hear about cyber attacks, one thing is for certain: people are going to be concerned about whether their data is safe. The misconception is usually that larger organisations are at a higher risk because their information may be more valuable. However, this is far from accurate as often the smaller organisations lack the adequate security measures to defend themselves against this risk, and as such are easy targets for a cyber attack. Ultimately, the malicious actors aren’t interested in the information, they are more interested in making sure you can’t access your data anymore to force you to pay the ransom. No matter how small the organisation, if you can’t access your own data, you’re at risk of losing your business and that’s what the malicious actors prey on. The fact that search term queries have not continued to grow at the same rate as the number of attacks shows that there’s still a lot of work needed to raise awareness. 

In addition, many businesses don’t know how they would react in the face of an attack, a dilemma discussed by Christian Goelz in his recent article, ‘Ransomware: To Pay or Not To Pay?’. 

While awareness is slowly increasing, there is still a lot more work to be done so that everyone is aware of their risk and can reduce their exposure. Awareness is one of the most effective ways to achieve this and protecting yourself from an attack is not as complex or expensive as you may think. 

Steps to Protection

Sophisticated attacks are difficult to avoid without 24/7 SOC/MDR monitoring. However, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce your risk and protect your business from basic attacks, including: 

  • Updating your OS and apps. It is best to enable automatic updates for everything and ensure that all software is up to date, not just on your laptops or PCs but also on your firewalls and servers. 
  • Password security. Avoid all of the commonly breached passwords and do not use the same password multiple times. You will have probably heard this before and for good reason, these steps are simple, yet extremely effective. We have curated some guidance here on this.  
  • Use two-factor authentication wherever possible (most major services offer this option). It is easy to set up and very effective in protecting you from unauthorised access. 
  • Do not use public WiFi and instead opt for VPNs when accessing insecure WiFi connections (such as coffee shops or airports). 

Cyber criminals are continually modifying their strategies to stay one step ahead of protective systems; it is a true game of “cat and mouse.” To minimise financial and reputational harm, it is essential for organisations to understand how to protect themselves from these attacks and how to recover if they fall victim. In addition to protective measures, always make sure that you have reliable (offline) backups in place and regularly test your data recovery from the backups. 

At Riela Cyber, we offer free educational workshops to help your business comprehend its risk across all levels and departments within the organisation (from marketing to finance teams, HR, board level and customer-facing staff). To find out more, fill out this form:

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Kurt Schrauwen

kurt SCHRAUWEN

Director

Kurt Schrauwen is a Director of the Riela Group of companies which includes Riela Yachts, Riela Cyber and Riela Tech. 

Kurt brings more than 20 years of leadership experience having been an early part of the global success of Microgaming in becoming a market leader. Kurt was responsible for the commercial, contractual, and technical sales for Microgaming and with this experience will complement the company’s growth strategy.

Kurt is passionate about business optimisation and prides himself in having an intrapreneurial outlook to maximise staff potential, reduce inefficiencies as well as identifying and maturing revenue growth opportunities.

Paul Cocker

Service Delivery Coordinator

Paul Cocker joined the Riela Group in late 2021, after spending just under 20 years with his previous employer.

Paul is responsible for the Riela Tech service levels, working on both the dispatch function and SLA management. Paul carries out a variety of duties across the Network Operations Centre and works closely across the wider team to deliver professionally tailored solutions for our Riela Tech clients.

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Murat Guner

Infrastructure Engineer

Murat Guner joined the Riela Group in the Summer of 2021 as an Infrastructure Engineer.

Murat began his career in Turkey as a computer teacher for primary and secondary schools before migrating his skills into IT infrastructure. After honing his IT experiences throughout a colourful career path, Murat gained numerous qualifications which he is now excited to apply to the management of our Riela Tech infrastructure.

Andrew Clucas

Senior Network Engineer

Andy is a qualified Network Engineer with in-depth knowledge of architecting, implementing and supporting networking solutions in the SMB, Enterprise and Service Provider environments.

He has over 20 years of experience working across multiple vendor operating systems, including Cisco, Juniper, Linux and Microsoft, and has also been responsible for implementing a variety of large scale network services deployments, taking projects from design to rollout and support.

Andy also has experience of deploying and migrating a range of virtualisation technologies including VMWare, Hyper-V and KVM based systems.

Marc Dorey

Infrastructure & Managed Services Lead

Marc is our Group’s Infrastructure and Managed Services lead with over 18 years’ experience in delivering infrastructure projects across multiple industry verticals and international jurisdictions.  From projects in Aerospace and Engineering through to Banking and Insurance, from Europe, China, Africa and Australia.

This experience is matched with a varied list of certifications from leading industry vendors such as Hp, Cisco, Microsoft, Ruckus, CompTIA and more.  As a qualified technical trainer Marc is comfortably able to take complicated technical concepts and deliver them in simplistic terms to key decision makers and end users alike.

Most of Marc’s experience has been gained working for managed service providers, both large and niche and as such is able to take real world experience and blend it with industry standards to help align our service delivery with our clients values and processes.

Alexandria halsall

Marketing Executive

As a Marketing Executive, Alex is responsible for all marketing duties spanning the Riela Group.

Alex joined the Riela Group in August 2020, shortly after graduating with a Psychology degree from Nottingham Trent University.

With past work experience in content marketing, event management and web design, Alex is able to apply her creative and analytical skills into the Riela strategy.

Matthew Roberts

Head of Sales

As the Head of Group Sales at the Riela family of companies, Matthew leads the company’s sales strategy, execution, and growth.

Matthew has a successful record building trusted client relationship and delivering upon set expectations. An accomplished sales leader, he delivers a sales process that provides clients with the information and support they need to make the right decisions for their organisations and their constituents.

Matthew has significant experience within the maritime industry having previously worked across various sectors including insurance, security, satellite communications and managed IT. Matthew’s most recent experience encompasses almost 5 years spent with the leading satellite communications and managed IT provider in the maritime industry, focusing on their superyacht clientele.

Christian Goelz Riela Cyber

christian goelz

Director

Christian is involved across the Riela family of companies with particular attention to the technology businesses, Cyber and Tech.

Christian gained a postgraduate Master in Finance degree at the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland and completed his MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Before joining us, Christian worked for six years at Argosy Capital, an Isle of Man-based private equity and venture capital business focusing on early-stage growth businesses. At Argosy, he focused on managing investment companies, research and financial analysis and served as a director on several boards.

ROBERT TOBIN

Riela Group Managing Director

Robert Tobin is the Managing Director of the Riela Group of Companies and is responsible in overseeing our business operations, our people and driving excellence in all we do.

Rob brings over 25 years’ of successful leadership and entrepreneurial experience across a range of industries including Family Office, corporate services, construction engineering, Superyachts, cyber security and information technology development to our Group, and to our customers.

In the past 15 years Rob has gained a prominent reputation within the Superyacht industry for his passion, integrity, innovation and achievements to date.

“Being part of an awesome, capable and forward thinking team that have a shared passion for Superyachts, people and the environment is the highlight of my career and puts a smile on my face and a spring in my step everyday”.

Peter Astell Burt

Director

Peter is an experienced technology consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the IT and cyber security industry.  Skilled in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), IT Strategy, Start-ups, Regulations, and Online Gaming. Strong consulting professional with a DPhil focused in Natural Sciences from ChristChurch, Oxford.

Tim Bliss

Tim Bliss

Founder

Tim Bliss, Managing Director of Riela Tech since the company foundation in 2015 and Director of Riela Cyber, brings over 20 years’ of successful leadership experience across a range of industries including finance and banking, software development, and manufacturing, as well as cyber security and information technology. Prior to forming the company he led the technology for Manx Financial Group PLC, where he was instrumental in business systems transformation.

“It is our hugely capable team of experts that drives our business – it is fantastic and rewarding to be able to use technology, intelligence, and great customer service to help make our clients’ business and staff progressively more efficient resilient and secure”