Three Inconvenient Truths about Cybersecurity

If one of your clients gets hit by the next ransomware attack,, that will reflect on you as much as on the client, unless you have done everything you can to help them address the inconvenient truths of cybersecurity.

Chris Crellin, Senior Director, Product Management, Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda

The recent WannaCry ransomware outbreak delivered plenty of lessons in cybersecurity — including some that everyone should have been learned already. For instance, who doesn’t know by now that unpatched systems invite security breaches?

A lot of people, apparently. Or they do know and simply choose to ignore it. The reality is if everyone applied patches in a timely fashion, WannaCry infections would have largely been avoided. WannaCry used a Windows Server Message Block (SMB) exploit called EternalBlue to get into computers. Microsoft had issued a patch for the vulnerability in March, but WannaCry still infected more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries.

Perhaps one or two of your customers were among the victims. Or perhaps all your customers dodged this one. Still, some may be exposed to the next attack, which could be far worse considering how rudimentary the WannaCry attack actually was.

Either way, it’s time to explain some inconvenient truths to your customers about cybersecurity. If you haven’t already, engage them in a discussion about your shared responsibilities in addressing these issues.


It Doesn’t Take a Genius

WannaCry demonstrated that you didn’t need to be a technical whiz to perpetrate a cyber assault that spans six continents in a matter of days. The ransomware variant wasn’t all that sophisticated. It wasn’t obfuscated, and it contained a kill switch that security researchers used to arrest the spread of the infection. Imagine the damage a more sophisticated strain could have wrought.

Even if the next attack is a repeat of WannaCry, though, that’s bad enough, considering WannaCry forced England’s National Health Service (NHS) to temporarily suspend non-emergency services. The problem is any cybercriminal with modest technical skills can download an exploit from the dark web with the potential to infect thousands, even millions, of computers.

Your customers need to know ransomware — and malware in general — has become a vast criminal enterprise with lots of would-be perpetrators chomping at the bit to deliver the next spectacular attack. A better understanding of this reality will help them take cybersecurity more seriously.


Users Are a Security Risk

Most ransomware attacks start with phishing. Why? Attackers know how to prey on people’s emotions, curiosity, and penchant for distraction. Even users who know better occasionally will click a URL or attachment they shouldn’t. The next time that happens, it could be a ransomware virus that locks a client’s data and demands ransom to unlock it.

This is why users pose a serious security risk. They need frequent reminders of cybersecurity threats. A yearly session or occasional email won’t do the trick. MSPs should work with customers to develop comprehensive cybersecurity training to convert users from a security risk into the company’s last line of defense against attack.


Security Isn’t a High Enough Priority

Perhaps the most alarming truth WannaCry exposed is that organizations don’t take security as seriously as they should. Even after a stream of cyber attacks delivered financial and reputational blows to well-known brands such as Sony and Target, organizations don’t always follow security best practices. How else could you explain why FedEx, NHS, PetroChina, and so many others got hit?

MSPs must impress upon clients the importance of taking security measures seriously. That includes applying patches, updating antivirus and anti-spam tools, educating users, and deploying real-time monitoring and analysis solutions. Failing to address any of these areas makes your clients vulnerable to the next cyberattack.

And if one of your clients gets hit, that will reflect on you as much as on the client, unless you have done everything you can to help them address the inconvenient truths of cybersecurity.


Chris Crellin is Senior Director of Product Management for Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda, a provider of security and data protection solutions for managed services providers, where he is responsible for leading product strategy and management.