Rebecca Slayton, assistant professor at Cornell University’s Science & Technology Studies Department and an expert on international security and cooperation, comments on the WannaCry cyber-attacks that have spread across 150 countries since Friday. Slayton says the attack shows both the vulnerabilities and resilience of our computer systems.
“The largest ransomware attack in history reveals both vulnerabilities and resilience. It is a sober reminder that it only takes one mistaken click to compromise an entire organization; that computer systems, like all infrastructures, become unreliable without constant maintenance; and that human lives often depend on the reliable functioning of computers.
“On the other hand, we also see signs of resilience.
“Hundreds of thousands of computers were compromised, but vastly more were protected by automated patching programs; many systems were restored from backups; doctors resorted to pen and paper as necessary; and no human lives were lost – yet.
“Nonetheless, the fact that the attack was a rip-off from the National Security Agency suggests the need to put resources into developing resilience rather than focusing on devising new cyberattacks. What comes around goes around.”
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