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in-focus

Cyberattack spurs concern for critical infrastructure


Windows users told to update software to defend against massive worldwide assault as firms in 150 countries hit by ransomware.

A THAI cybersecurity expert has urged all Window-based computer users to update their software to defend against the latest global cyberattack, which has already hit more than 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries.
Prinya Homanek, president and founder of ACIS Professional Centre and Cybertron, said Friday’s cyberattack should serve as a wake-up call, but added that people did not need to panic.
Prinya also cited Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s response to the attack, saying the country should step up its preparedness to cope with cybersecurity challenges.
“We should be vigilant and well-|disciplined in protecting the country’s critical infrastructure such as ATMs, airports, hospitals, telecoms, mass |transit, etc, from cyberattacks.”
“The first version of WannaCry ransomware may be temporarily stopped [as reported in the US on the weekend] but there will likely be newer versions to wreak havoc,” he said.
Citing Europol executive director Rob Wainwright, AFP reported that the cyberattack had affected more than 150 countries.
“We’ve never seen anything like this,” Wainwright told Britain’s ITV News. “The latest count is over 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries. Many of those victims will be businesses, including large corporations.”
Meanwhile, Prayut is slated to chair the national cybersecurity committee, which will be set up under a proposed cybersecurity law being considered by the National Reform Steering Assembly. Previously, the Digital Economy and Society minister was the chairman of the national cybersecurity body.
The proposed change is in response to growing cybersecurity threats, which require the committee to be directly supervised by the prime minister, especially during critical challenges that affect the national economy and security, officials have said. 
The panel will also be empowered to order public and private sector entities to take necessary measures to respond to cyber threats. If private organisations do not follow orders, the committee will ask the courts to issue rulings.
Given the worldwide digitalisation of economic, social and other activities, it was inevitable that cybersecurity |threats would rise, experts said. 
Prinya said the ransomware attack represented a major crisis that should be turned into an opportunity for Thailand and other countries to pay more attention to cyber threats since state agencies, hospitals, banks and other users of computers with Windows software were all vulnerable if their software was not up to date.
People using Windows 10 were safe, while earlier Window versions needed to be updated as suggested by Microsoft or they could potentially be vulnerable to ransomware.
Prinya said ransomware threats were similar to time bombs ready to wreak havoc if no preventive action was taken so the public and private sectors should not be complacent given the latest global attack, which has mainly hit countries in the West so far.
Thailand’s critical infrastructure was vulnerable, Prinya said, adding that while the risk was low, the impact would be high and widespread if critical infrastructure is hit.

Published : May 14, 2017

By : THE NATION