On Friday, the world experienced the wrath of a well-coordinated ransomware attack, known as Wanna Cry. The global reach was unprecedented. The current estimates suggest that the attack affected over 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries. The attack caused Britain's NHS to cancel surgeries, while crippling a wide array of Russian and Chinese private and public institutions for most of the day, and the had the rest of the world was recoiled in shock. The hackers targeted aged operating systems like Windows XP, which users do not regularly update.
In other words, these hackers didn’t technically exploit a vulnerability in the Microsoft operating system (OS). In fact, the latest release of Microsoft’s OS would have prevented the attack if installed on a computer. The hackers focused on two core problems: 1. Microsoft’s lack of convergence between their OS and the PC; and, 2. The general apathy of the typical user.
Ok, so what does this mean in laymen’s terms? It means that Microsoft has a flawed model for maintaining their OS. The system is entirely dependent on the user to administer regular patch updates. So why is this an issue? If you are like me, you tend to ignore and push off those updates until they are absolutely necessary. This is not the best defense, as it exposes me to a potential hack. More importantly, I risk corrupting all of the valuable contents on my computer, like cherished photos, important material for the business, etc.
Is there a better model or solution? Of course, consider the Google Chromebook. Google has earned the right to brag a little about the security built into its browser-based Chrome OS. Google Chrome closes off most conventional entry points for malware. You can’t install traditional programs at all, the browser and individual pages run locked inside memory, and with each reboot the Chromebook verifies that its software hasn’t been tampered with then repairs it if necessary. Chrome OS also automatically downloads and installs its own security updates. Since Chrome stores data in the cloud, even setting a Chromebook on fire wouldn’t have an impact. Now, of course, nothing is bullet-proof, however, Chromebooks can be a really safe bet.
Beyond the value of security, here are the other benefits of Chromebooks:
- Cost - It is extraordinarily inexpensive. You can buy a Chromebook for as low as $169. That’s insane.
- Speed - The processing power is equal to most other competing laptops, which allows starting within seconds along with far fewer reboots.
- Versatility - The platform is incredibly lightweight and portable with options to use as a laptop or tablet depending on the model.
- Recovery - All content is automatically backed up to a cloud-based infrastructure. No need to worry about saving any of your important files or photos.
Chromebooks are a great solution for anyone using G Suite personally or professionally. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Beatha Group. We are always talking with our clients about the value of Chromebooks as a perfect compliment to the Google Experience for Senior Living.
Let’s be clear… I’m far from an expert as I’m sure other rather skilled cyber-security technicians could poke holes into my argument. I’m just representing the average Joe looking for the most simple and secure solution. We have too many other things to worry about than applying the latest OS update on our computers.
Hopefully, Wanna Cry is a wake up call. We all need to be much more diligent. Unfortunately, the next big wave could have a greater impact and perhaps even catastrophic. That’s pretty grim, but a harsh reality. Tell us what you think. What readiness measures is your organization taking?