It could make a great movie.

Posted By on May 22, 2017

Honestly, the “wannacry” scenario sounds like a Hollywood B-grade disaster movie script!

An employee in an intelligence agency gets an attack of ethics, leaks some information that the people should know and some evil malcontent seeking world dominance, uses it to write a childishly simple program to dominate the world’s computers.

In hind sight it sounds more like a children’s cartoon script. That makes it all the more embarrassing!

However for the spy novel readers, there’s a few twists in the plot thrown in too!

Microsoft, in an effort to maintain world computer system dominance tells us porkies; that it’s minor updates are critical for our computer security. It creates entirely new systems to convince us our original one is no longer worth having, when it could revise it. It’s lied that the Windows Advantage upgrade was a security upgrade, when it was spyware that checked your system registration. Today we can’t tell when they are lying or telling the truth any more.

The NSA, an agency supposed to maintain and uphold our security, not only finds a weakness in our national computer systems and says nothing but it writes software to exploit it!

As if that’s not enough, to add insult to injury, the NSA’s own security is so flawed that while it is haemorrhaging secrets, it leaks the instructions to manipulate this computer weakness to the world. Wrap all this up in a nation run by a leader who can’t keep his big mouth shut, giving secret intelligence away to the enemy (even worse – the source of that secret inteliigence!).

But it’s the simplicity of the whole thing that’s so like Hollywood – the software looks for a website that doesn’t exist, indefinitely, meanwhile displaying a ransom note on your screen. When someone created the website, the whole ransomware code was neutralised. . . or was it?

The code is still resident in those systems, meaning the hole is still there to be exploited again. Next time it might not be so simple to fix and capable of penetrating more up to date systems.

When Windows XP was created, it was hailed as a huge leap forward in computer security. Now it’s been compromised. In time the same will be said about today’s latest systems, Windows 10. It’s a catch-up game that we are locked into, always keeping one step ahead of the bad hackers.

It also highlights a few flaws too!

  1. It’s time businesses took a serious look at other operating systems, rather than Windows. Hacks are written for specific operating systems. If most of the world uses one system, that’s the one the hackers will target. If you run a Linux based system (SuSe, Ubuntu, Fedora etc), you’re probably laughing at the “wannacry malware” shambles.
  2. We are engrossed in connecting everything to the Internet – the IoT or Internet of things.

In hindsight, is that wise?

Will the next ransomware screen say “Pay $300USD in Bitcoin within 48 hours and we will unlock your home and release your car from your garage. Failure to pay will mean your fridge and freezer will defrost totally and your lighting, phone, hot water and sewage will be disconnected from the grid. If you do not pay within 72 hours, not only will your services be permanently disconnected, but you will be signed up for the highest level of subscription TV services and your TV be locked on permanently.”

Or worse – at 100kph the screen on your dashboard, that was a street map a few seconds ago, tells you that unless you pay $300USD in bitcoin, your engine control module will trip into crash mode. You will be unable to move your vehicle at more than 5kph for a distance of 5 kilometres. Already your car is slowing, oblivious to the other cars on the freeway, all doing 100Kph and you are in the outer lane!

Maybe it’s time for a rethink.
Do we really want everything interconnected?
If so, be prepared to keep it permanently up to date with the latest operating system and all it’s updates.

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Mimenta.com is the online voice of a collection of consumer advocates working independently to represent people who would otherwise be unheard. We speak for those who are bullied by corporations and don't realise they can have a say.

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