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May 18, 2017

Microsoft issue WannaCry guidance for Azure customers

Microsoft Azure customers receive guidance following WannaCrypt attack that affected thousands of organisations around the world.

By Hannah Williams

Microsoft has provided advice for its Azure customers following the recent ransomware attack, WannaCrypt.

The advice has been released for users that are either slow to respond or complacent regarding security, according to Venture South.

Prior to this, the company initially released customer guidance to users of its Windows XP OS after many of its customers became victims of the global WannaCrypt software attack.

The attack, which began on 12th May 2017, targeted the Microsoft Windows XP operating system. Until now it has infected over 230,000 computers across more than 150 countries around the world.

WannaCryptRansomware attacks are usually known to infect computers when the user opens a phishing email, which has been alleged to be the cause of WannaCrypt although, this has not been confirmed as the full method of attack.

Read more: NSA, Microsoft, North Korea or YOU: Who’s to blame for WannaCry?

However, it is expected that the bug stems from the plug-in that was embedded into Microsoft’s Windows XP service pack, which should have been updated or better still, removed. This affected many organisations as they were running an old, unsupported XP operating system that is no longer supported by Microsoft.

Following the attack, Microsoft has since realised this and published eight safety steps for Azure customers to protect their organisations against attacks such as WannaCrypt arising again.

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Microsoft has advised that based on the fact the malware exploits Service Message Block (SMB) vulnerability, customers should install MS17-010 from its new security updates in order to prevent the access of the SMB vulnerability.

Azure customers are also required to review all services that include SMB endpoints exposed to the internet, many of which are found connected to ports TCP 139, TCP 445, UDP 137 and UDP 138. Unless highly essential, they should all be blocked at the firewall.

The latest Windows update should be utilised by customers, and users of Azure’s Platform as a Service (PaaS) Web and Worker Roles or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) should expect automatic updates.

All other guest OS versions that have been released after March 14th 2017 include the recent MS17-010 update that is recommended.

Although Microsoft can be blamed for not having the needed security updates in place ahead of the attack, the company has now issued security safety tips for both its Windows and Azure customers to prevent further vulnerabilities.

It is now left to customer to follow the steps provided and run the necessary malware protection, updates and back-ups required.


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