This weekend, a vulnerability in some versions of the Windows operating system resulted in the biggest cybersecurity attack in years. The so-called “WannaCry” malware relied on at least one exploit included in the latest Shadow Brokers release. As we have repeated, attacks like this are a clarion call for reform to the government’s Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP).
The exploits may have been shared with Microsoft by the NSA. We hope that happened, as it would be the right way to handle a vulnerability like this. Sharing vulnerabilities with tech companies enables us to protect our users, including the ones within the government. If the government has exploits that have been compromised, they must disclose them to software companies before they can be used widely putting users at risk. The lack of transparency around the government’s decision-making processes here means that we should improve and codify the Vulnerabilities Equities Process in law.
The WannaCry attack also shows the importance of security updates in protecting users. Microsoft patched the relevant vulnerabilities in a March update, but users who had not updated remain vulnerable. Mozilla has shared some resources to help users update their software, but much more needs to be done in this area.
The internet is a shared resource and securing it is our shared responsibility. This means technology companies, governments, and even users have to work together to protect and improve the security of the internet.