According to numerous open-source reports, a widespread ransomware campaign is affecting various organizations with reports of tens of thousands of infections in as many as 74 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Russia, Taiwan, France, and Japan. The software can run in as many as 27 different languages.
The latest version of this ransomware variant, known as WannaCry, WCry, or Wanna Decryptor, was discovered the morning of May 12, 2017, by an independent security researcher and has spread rapidly over several hours, with initial reports beginning around 4:00 AM EDT, May 12, 2017. Open-source reporting indicates a requested ransom of .1781 bitcoins, roughly $300 U.S.
This Alert is the result of efforts between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to highlight known cyber threats. DHS and the FBI continue to pursue related information of threats to federal, state, and local government systems and as such, further releases of technical information may be forthcoming.
Initial reports indicate the hacker or hacking group behind the WannaCry campaign is gaining access to enterprise servers either through Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) compromise or through the exploitation of a critical Windows SMB vulnerability. Microsoft released a security update for the MS17-010 vulnerability on March 14, 2017. Additionally, Microsoft released patches for Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003 operating systems on May 13, 2017. According to open sources, one possible infection vector is via phishing emails.
Recommended Steps for Prevention
- Apply the Microsoft patch for the MS17-010 SMB vulnerability dated March 14, 2017.
- Enable strong spam filters to prevent phishing e-mails from reaching the end users and authenticate in-bound e-mail using technologies like Sender Policy Framework (SPF), Domain Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC), and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) to prevent e-mail spoofing.
- Scan all incoming and outgoing e-mails to detect threats and filter executable files from reaching the end users.
- Ensure anti-virus and anti-malware solutions are set to automatically conduct regular scans.
- Manage the use of privileged accounts. Implement the principle of least privilege. No users should be assigned administrative access unless absolutely needed. Those with a need for administrator accounts should only use them when necessary.
- Configure access controls including file, directory, and network share permissions with least privilege in mind. If a user only needs to read specific files, they should not have write access to those files, directories, or shares.
- Disable macro scripts from Microsoft Office files transmitted via e-mail. Consider using Office Viewer software to open Microsoft Office files transmitted via e-mail instead of full Office suite applications.
- Develop, institute and practice employee education programs for identifying scams, malicious links, and attempted social engineering.
- Have regular penetration tests run against the network. No less than once a year. Ideally, as often as possible/practical.
- Test your backups to ensure they work correctly upon use.
Recommended Steps for Remediation
- Contact law enforcement. We strongly encourage you to contact a local FBI field office upon discovery to report an intrusion and request assistance. Maintain and provide relevant logs.
- Implement your security incident response and business continuity plan. Ideally, organizations should ensure they have appropriate backups so their response is simply to restore the data from a known clean backup.
Defending Against Ransomware Generally
Precautionary measures to mitigate ransomware threats include:
- Ensure anti-virus software is up-to-date.
- Implement a data back-up and recovery plan to maintain copies of sensitive or proprietary data in a separate and secure location. Backup copies of sensitive data should not be readily accessible from local networks.
- Scrutinize links contained in e-mails, and do not open attachments included in unsolicited e-mails.
- Only download software – especially free software – from sites you know and trust.
- Enable automated patches for your operating system and Web browser.
More information is available at us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/TA17-132A.