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SECURITY > Cybersecurity

Editorial: Take basic protection measures against cyberattacks

  • May 16, 2017
  • , Nikkei , p. 2
  • JMH Translation

Many companies and organizations fell victim to the global cyberattacks over the weekend. The full details of the attack have not yet been uncovered, but it is clear that the methods of cyberattack have become more sophisticated. Companies and internet users must take this opportunity to take stock of their measure against cyberattacks.

 

The cyberattack came in the form of a virus called ransomware, which encrypts users’ data, rendering it inaccessible, then demanding payment of 300 dollars in the form of the virtual currency “bitcoin” in order to restore the data.

 

The UK was one of the first countries to be hit by the malware, forcing British hospitals to cancel procedures.  Japanese companies such as Nissan and Hitachi were also victimized, disrupting their email systems. At least 200,000 cases of damage were reported in 150 countries.

 

The tactics used by the hackers have existed for over a decade. In this latest incident, the virus was programmed to spread automatically, which led to the unprecedented global damage. However, we must not overlook the fact that the world could have escaped the international attack unscathed if it had taken proper precautions.

 

The attack exploited a known bug in Microsoft’s Windows, which the company had offered free security patches for in March. Software companies have a responsibility to actively share security information and users, in turn, must keep their software up to date.  

 

Some companies run outdated operating systems that Microsoft no longer supports, so they are unable to apply the latest security updates. Others require time to assess whether the provided patches are compatible with their customized internal systems. It is critical for senior management to acknowledge the risk of cyberattacks and step up their precautions.

 

Individual users must also remain vigilant by employing basic prevention measures such as not opening messages from unknown senders and downloading security software.  

 

Widespread use of the internet of things (IoT) will make cyberattacks more common, exposing our home appliances and cars to hackers. Japan must be ready to defend more serious attacks as the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games draw near.

 

Various countermeasures are needed to adapt to the evolution of cyberspace, such as training skilled specialists and developing systems to share information between governments, research institutions, and the private sector. Although there is no silver bullet to protect against all cyberattacks, there are things we can all do to minimize the damage.

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