Boeing Commercial Airplanes is the latest victim of the “WannaCry” ransomware attack. The American aerospace giant confirmed that “a small number of” legacy computers tasked with automation of wing spar assembly machines were affected, at a company facility north of Charleston, South Carolina. The company denied that this incident impacts its delivery schedule. Boeing manufactures and delivers widebody commercial jets from its facilities in South Carolina, including its latest 787 Dreamliner, which has a massive order backlog of over 700 aircraft. The company is also manufacturing its next-generation 777-X aircraft there.
The guiding principal of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” resulted in countless manufacturing companies worldwide retaining old computers (or new computers with old software) which drive vital manufacturing equipment, and which are vulnerable to today’s malware and ransomware. These computers fall prey to ransomware such as WannaCry. For a high-stakes operation like Boeing’s, broken industrial computers result in cascading delays that cost not just the company, but also airlines relying on Boeing to deliver on time, to execute new routes or replace old aircraft. “WannaCry” is a ransomware that encrypts important files in your system, and makes you pay a ransom in untraceable crypto-currency, to decrypt those files.