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: Responsibility
by flav2000 on Mon 15th May 2017 19:42 UTC in reply to "Responsibility"
Member since:

Thanks for pointing that out.
Hospitals are stuck between a rock and a hard place in particular.

Many diagnostic machines like X-Rays, MRI etc are quiet expensive and cannot be upgraded easily. Upgrading means certifying the device from top to bottom and no manufacturer is going to do that. To make things worse all the push to make data readily shareable and digitally available means that all these insecure devices are now part of the network. If there is a dollar available that money will inevitability end up on new feature rather than securing systems.

The same happens on manufacturing plants. That's why big names like Nissan and Hitachi got hit. Many old style PLCs and robotics don't have support for newer OSes (many even are still stuck on Win2k!). Shutting down a working factory for security upgrades is a non-starter both in terms of cost and potential issues (it is working fine right at this moment but you may break it by updating). A lot of these are exposed to the network b/c of need to automate monitoring and what not. Again features over security.

Consumer-wise I would say yes they're to blame - there are however many places in the world where using the latest patches is just not possible under the current schema. Hopefully there will be push to change things for the better but it's not a situation that is easily fixable.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: Responsibility
by dionicio on Tue 16th May 2017 21:03 in reply to "RE: Responsibility"
dionicio Member since:

Got some photo shots of tremendously successful Rosetta Mission. Some Instruments showing XP welcome screens. Discipline, something you can't ask to anyone.

System Engineers should always consider that one, a rare asset.

Are You sure you can't run Windows10 out the swamp? As far as noted, passing networked activation, up to You.

Edited 2017-05-16 21:07 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2