EY recommends six immediate steps for organizations to protect themselves and reduce impact of ransomware attacks

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  • Actions can help protect from further cyber attacks by WannaCry and other ransomware

ZURICH, 16 MAY 2017 ‒ In light of recent cyber attacks focused on global organizations through ransomware, EY is urging organizations worldwide to take immediate action and engage effective response measures to mitigate the effect of these attacks and help protect themselves against future attacks.

Tom Schmidt, EY Switzerland Cybersecurity Leader, says:

“The recent wave of cyber attacks is proof that cyber criminals are becoming more aggressive and sophisticated, simultaneously targeting all kinds of interconnected organizations across the globe. A cyber criminal’s greatest ally is complacency. Whether you are an SMI company or a family-owned business, if you don’t take cybersecurity seriously, you are at significant risk of being attacked. EY is closely monitoring the attacks and we urge everyone to take steps that can help keep critical systems and data safe.”

The risk of being attacked increases exponentially when preventative measures are not taken. Failure to take incident response equally seriously can mean the difference between hours and days versus weeks and months of system compromise and outage. There are six actions organizations can take now to help protect their systems, their most valuable assets and their customers, while mitigating against potential damage from emerging threats:

  1. Disconnect infected machines from the network and take all backups offline because they also could become encrypted if left connected to the network.
  2. Activate your incident response plan and don’t treat the investigation as merely an IT issue or exercise. Ensure there is cross-functional representation in the investigation team, including legal, compliance, information security, business, public relations, human resources and other departments.
  3. Identify and address vulnerabilities in your connected ecosystem; sufficiently install security updates, malware detection and anti-virus detection to complicate attackers’ efforts to get back in; enhance detection and response capabilities for future attacks; and prepare for eradication events.
  4. Ensure your systems are patched before powering up PCs. Keep systems up to date with a robust enterprise-level patch and vulnerability management program. This should include a formal, repeatable life cycle to manage vulnerabilities based on risks as they evolve, and a comprehensive asset model that focuses on the exposure of assets to these risks, including any connectivity to other assets.
  5. Activate business continuity plans. Prepare data based on varying requirements for regulatory reporting, insurance claim and dispute, litigation, threat intelligence and/or customer notification.
  6. Collect and preserve evidence in a forensically sound manner so that it is conducive to investigation, and reliable and usable in civil or regulatory matters.

Michael Faske, EY Switzerland Forensic Investigation and Dispute Services (FIDS) Leader, says:

“Malware outbreaks such as WannaCry require companies to respond in a comprehensive and defensible manner. Even after the data is restored, companies sometimes face allegations that sensitive personnel-related or other business information had been compromised in the ransomware attack. Third parties and other stakeholders may require the company to demonstrate forensically that, even if the data was accessed, it was not stolen.”


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About EY

EY* is one of Switzerland’s largest audit and advisory firms. EY employs about 2,700 people across 11 offices in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, and generated revenue of approx. CHF 661 million in the 2015/2016 financial year. Together with the 231,000 employees of the global EY organization, EY serves clients all over the world. EY offers an extensive portfolio of services to large as well as small and medium-sized businesses: integrated transformation advisory from strategy to IT architecture, assurance, transaction, tax, legal and people advisory services. Our highly trained staff, strong teams and local base in a globally integrated organization allow us to overcome the challenges our clients face. We are committed to “Building a better working world” – for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

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*The name EY refers here to Ernst & Young Ltd, the Swiss member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited (EYG), a UK company limited by guarantee. Each EYG member firm is a separate legal entity and has no liability for another such entity’s acts or omissions.