Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 15th May 2017 16:18 UTC

Friday saw the largest global ransomware attack in internet history, and the world did not handle it well. We're only beginning to calculate the damage inflicted by the WannaCry program - in both dollars and lives lost from hospital downtime - but at the same time, we're also calculating blame.

There's a long list of parties responsible, including the criminals, the NSA, and the victims themselves - but the most controversial has been Microsoft itself. The attack exploited a Windows networking protocol to spread within networks, and while Microsoft released a patch nearly two months ago, it’s become painfully clear that patch didn’t reach all users. Microsoft was following the best practices for security and still left hundreds of thousands of computers vulnerable, with dire consequences. Was it good enough?

If you're still running Windows XP today and you do not pay for Microsoft's extended support, the blame for this whole thing rests solely on your shoulders - whether that be an individual still running a Windows XP production machine at home, the IT manager of a company cutting costs, or the Conservative British government purposefully underfunding the NHS with the end goal of having it collapse in on itself because they think the American healthcare model is something to aspire to.

You can pay Microsoft for support, upgrade to a secure version of Windows, or switch to a supported Linux distribution. If any one of those mean you have to fix, upgrade, or rewrite your internal software - well, deal with it, that's an investment you have to make that is part of running your business in a responsible, long-term manner. Let this attack be a lesson.

Nobody bats an eye at the idea of taking maintenance costs into account when you plan on buying a car. Tyres, oil, cleaning, scheduled check-ups, malfunctions - they're all accepted yearly expenses we all take into consideration when we visit the car dealer for either a new or a used car.

Computers are no different - they're not perfect magic boxes that never need any maintenance. Like cars, they must be cared for, maintained, upgraded, and fixed. Sometimes, such expenses are low - an oil change, new windscreen wiper rubbers. Sometimes, they are pretty expensive, such as a full tyre change and wheel alignment. And yes, after a number of years, it will be time to replace that car with a different one because the yearly maintenance costs are too high.

Computers are no different.

So no, Microsoft is not to blame for this attack. They patched this security issue two months ago, and had you been running Windows 7 (later versions were not affected) with automatic updates (as you damn well should) you would've been completely safe. Everyone else still on Windows XP without paying for extended support, or even worse, people who turn automatic updates off who was affected by this attack?

I shed no tears for you. It's your own fault.

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RE[2]: Blame List
by Alfman on Tue 16th May 2017 01:41 UTC in reply to "RE: Blame List"
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Thom Holwerda,

But... But they fixed it two months ago?

Sorry Thom, but this isn't nearly as simple as you are making it out to be. I absolutely hate to make an argument from authority, but if you had more experience in IT you would see it's not this simple. If an os upgrade or update breaks a peace of software or equipment, then what?

This isn't remotely hypothetical, I've experienced several windows incompatibilities. At one company the customer ticket management system we were using for several years broke on windows 8. And so we were stuck with using windows 7 internally until the ticket management software could be replaced. The company's software licensing agreement actually entitled every employee to install windows 8, so it was never a matter of cost, but of feasibility and compatibility.

Ironically even our own software we were developing was broken by an update. Granted upgrade/update complications are usually more of an annoyance, like having to throw away a card/printer or borked wifi/usb until the manufacturer releases a new compatible driver (all of these have happened to me and my family btw), but we move on. However with specialized and certified medical equipment and software that MS doesn't even own, allowing untested/uncertified software auto updates can have life threatening repercussions. This is irresponsible! Certification is not something that should be rushed under time pressure either.

And I'm not saying you don't have valid points, but you've oversimplified the challenges that IT administrators are facing in order to push this narrative, you are wrong to think it's just a matter of updating. Don't think for a moment a lawyer wouldn't sue a hospital for gross negligence for allowing untested/rushed software to run on it's systems. The updates cut both ways.

Administrators have no authority to re-certify updated medical equipment at the hospitals, automatic updates pose too great a risk and are ineffectiveness against zero day exploits anyways. Arguably the best course of action is to focus instead on keeping them isolated. That these systems were compromised over the internet is totally unacceptable. These systems shouldn't touch the internet, not even for updates.

There may be times they need to be updated, but only through certified channels and NOT automatically while they are in commission.

Edited 2017-05-16 02:00 UTC

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