AOA encourages members to protect themselves against global cyberattacks

May 17, 2017
Take steps for protection after May 12 “WannaCry” virus spreads to 150 countries.

A global cyberattack last week—the ransomware nicknamed "WannaCry," which affected computers in 150 countries—is still sending shivers around the world and potentially lurking in more unprotected computers. 

Among those most impacted by the attack were Britain's public health system, FedEx, French automaker Renault, and universities in China. The schocking spread of the malicious software appears to have slowed, thanks to a British computer tech who disabled the computer code and kept it from doing more damage. The attack served as a reminder of our digital-age vulnerabilities.

Like other companies and groups, the AOA is verifying that all recommended security patches have been installed in its computer network. The AOA sends out regular updates as part of its security plan and policies at its corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, and its field office in Washington, D.C. The AOA also is working with groups, such as the AOA Board of Trustees, to reinforce best practices when it comes to the security of their computers.

What can AOA members do to protect themselves?

  • Make sure your Microsoft Windows updates are current and the fix, in response to the WannaCry virus, was applied. Always reboot when prompted after installing Windows Updates. (For reference, patch numbers are: KB4012212 or KB4012215).

  • Make sure your virus protection program is working and up to date. If not, install the latest updates and virus signature files. Pay attention to software warning messages located in the lower task bar on computer monitors.

  • Back up your files and data regularly.

  • Be wary of suspect emails. Reach out to the sender to verify he or she was the actual sender before clicking on suspicious links and attachments.

Authorities were investigating how hackers spread the malicious software, though typically ransomware is spread through email, links, uploaded documents or pop-ups. The hackers demand payment or ransom ($300 in the case of WannaCry) to unlock users' computers and regain access to their files.

For more on the subject of cybercrime and whether you are at risk, read "Danger: Data-The (Digital) Threat Within" in the May 2017 issue of AOA Focus.

Related News

AOA MORE, optometry’s data registry, takes yearlong pause

The AOA will use the time to evaluate its collection efforts and create a registry for the future that is most useful to improving eye health and vision care. The AOA launched the registry in 2015.

Talking politics in the office? 3 things to keep in mind

Even if you’re choosing to disengage, today’s politics have a way of finding you. What are the ground rules for approaching political debates in the practice?

New rules ahead for patient access to electronic health records

Under new rules for the 21st Century Cures Act, doctors of optometry will need to prepare for changes going into effect April 5. Doctors should check in with their health IT vendor in order to make sure they meet the new requirements.