WannaCrypt0r, the global cyber-attack that paralysed 45 NHS trusts, plus businesses in over 100 countries, has woken the world up.
It’s woken a few security vendors up too, as the flurry of emails in my inbox over the weekend shows.
And, predictably, they’re all keen to tell us that customers running their security software were protected from WannaCrypt0r’s terrifying exploits.
Here’s a summary of the claims each of these wannabe ‘WannaCrypt0r-killers’ have made. It will be interesting reading for those who are contemplating where to go next with their anti-ransomware strategy!
The mail from security software vendor Bitdefender states its case boldly: “Customers running Bitdefender are not affected by this attack wave.”
How so? Bitdefender has a ‘ransomware vaccine’ that users can switch on to immunise machines, and this uses the ransomware’s own programming against it.
But at a deeper level, it boils down to the ability to detect memory violations – in other words, to understand when a machine’s memory is being tampered with, which indicates that a cyber-exploit is afoot long before it can actually execute and cause any damage.
It’s this kind of device behaviour, Bitdefender implies, that, with their GravityZone products, would have shut WannaCrypt0r down before it even really got started.
It’s machine-learning that’s writ large in the Trend Micro response to the WannaCrypt0r incident.
“Customers are already protected against this threat through Predictive Machine Learning and other relevant ransomware protection features found in Trend Micro XGen™ security,” the firm claims.
It’s a highly layered approach, involving email and web gateway solutions, behaviour monitoring and reputation analysis, file and website blocking, across physical and virtual machines, with the overall goal being to “prevent ransomware from ever reaching end users.”
Of course, if WannaCrypt0r has shown us one thing, it’s that ransomware is perfectly capable of activating before it reaches the end user!
However, a beacon of hope in Trend Micro’s communication that I did not see elsewhere is that it has a tool that can decrypt files affected by certain crypto-ransomware variants, meaning victims would not have to pay the ransom in exchange for a decryption key.
(How many IT guys would have killed for that last Friday evening?)
Malwarebytes’ communication slaps its cards down on the table thus:
“Malwarebytes is protecting your organization against this specific ransomware variant. Our anti-ransomware technology uses a dedicated real-time detection and blocking engine that continuously monitors for ransomware behaviors, like those seen in WannaCrypt0r.”
Like Bitdefender and Trend Micro, this is hinting at some sort of intelligent analysis of machine and network behaviours that might predict a ransomware attack, before it actually starts to execute.
Malwarebytes’ four-layered security approach – operating system, memory, application behaviour and application hardening – contributes to this detection capability, as it monitors at multiple system levels for ransomware and other exploits, simultaneously.
But Malwarebytes goes further than this in its claims. It says in this blog about WannaCrypt0r that it “will stop any future unknown ransomware variants.”
(The italics are mine – but I’m sure you’ll agree they’re worth emphasising!)
What next for WannaCrypt0r?
There are few certainties in cyber-security but what experts are predicting is that wave two of the WannaCrypt0r attack will come soon – and wearing a different guise.
Will the security solutions above recognise it rapidly enough to combat it?
Let’s see whether the communications live up to their word.