Many School Districts Are Still Vulnerable To WannaCry
Years after patches were released, many systems remain vulnerable…
An article review.
While it has been over two years since the WannaCry exploit was publicly announced, a new report submitted by our own Sean Waugh says that hundreds of thousands of internet-connected machines are still vulnerable…and many of those machines belong to government agencies and other public institutions.
The investigation began when website Ars Technica began looking into a recent ransomware attack that disabled many Baltimore city government agency systems earlier this month. While working on a follow-up to that story, reporters discovered eight additional servers on the Baltimore County School District’s network that were vulnerable to the WannaCry exploit more than two years after patches became available.
When it comes to missing patches, Baltimore County isn’t alone: open internet scans have uncovered hundreds of thousands of vulnerable machines, with a disproportionate number of those belonging to schools and other government agencies. This news highlights an ongoing problem as IT departments in public agencies often deal with a lack of funding and support, often leading to vulnerabilities such as WannaCry remaining unpatched. A lack of funding can also mean older devices that require outdated, vulnerable protocols must remain in service, making mitigation more difficult.
The tools used by the reporters to find these vulnerabilities are available to the public, so it is a safe bet that criminals are also aware of them. While schools and other public institutions are far from the only vulnerable organizations, they are often targeted preferentially by criminals due to the increased likelihood that the ransom will be paid. If this wasn’t bad enough, a new round of serious vulnerabilities in Intel CPUs was announced recently, requiring another set of patches.
Original article by Sean Gallagher writing for Ars Technica.