NEWS | May 15, 2017

DOD warns of ‘Wannacry’ ransomware threat to networks

By Department of Defense J6 Department of Defense

Ransomware known as “Wannacry” has been reported to have struck multiple entities across the world, according to an email sent out May 14 by Vice Adm. Marshall B. Lytle III, Director, Command, Control, Communication and Computers/Cyber, Chief Information Officer, J6, Joint Staff, and Dr. John A. Zangardi, the Acting Department of Defense Chief Information Officer.

To increase collective defenses across DOD and federal networks, Marshall and Zangardi urge all employees to take three actions:

(1) Do not click on links or download files in emails unless you know for sure they are intended for you;

(2) Ensure your personal devices are updated and patched; and,

(3) Backup your data so you can recover your systems if they become infected. Microsoft released a patch in March that addresses this issue.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that infects a computer and restricts users’ access until a ransom is paid to unlock it. The malware spreads by “phishing,” which is luring unsuspecting users to click on infected email attachments and links in emails to launch the attack.

Phishing emails are crafted to appear as though they have been sent from a legitimate organization or known individual. These emails often entice users to click on a link or open an attachment containing malicious code. After the code is run, your computer may become infected with malware.

Unpatched or out-of-date systems are particularly vulnerable to ransomware.

The Department of Homeland Security has previously released information on best practices to address ransomware at https://www.us-cert.gov/security-publications/Ransomware.

“The workforce should be aware that this malware could morph,” Zangardi said. “Do not let down your guard.”

Those who believe they have been a victim of a phishing attack or ransomware infection should immediately report the incident to their information technology help desk or security office.