Domingo, 22 Octubre, 2017

WannaCry ransomware cyber-attack is a 'wake-up call', says Microsoft

Montez Delgado | 19 May, 2017, 17:14

The attack is unique, according to Europol, because it combines ransomware with a worm function, meaning once one machine is infected, the entire internal network is scanned and other vulnerable machines are infected.

The virus - leaked by the prominent hacker group "The Shadow Brokers" through exploited tools from the National Security Agency - spreads via email, with users being locked out of their computers until having paid the $300 ransom. But, Conficker does no immediate damage and hides so that it can use infected computers as part of a "botnet" to send out spam and fake antivirus software. "Unfortunately, most people don't have them", Abrams says.

Because of its success infiltrating systems, the software - also known as WannaCrypt, Wana Decryptor or WCry - is already inspiring imitators.

From governments to individuals, there's plenty of finger-pointing going on following the latest global cyberattack. The initial attack had started after many offices had closed Friday.

Terming such cyber-attacks as a shared responsibility between tech companies and customers, the tech giant said, so many computers remained vulnerable even two months after the release of a patch.

The victims include hospitals, universities, manufacturers and government agencies in countries like Britain, China, Russia, Germany and Spain.

The updated ransomware demands 0.11943 bitcoin (around $218) as the payment for unlocking one system.

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The severity of the attack - United Kingdom hospitals in several cases asked only those with life-threatening or severe conditions to seek care at facilities affected by the virus - has prompted an intense debate among computer executives, former intelligence officials, and activists about who exactly is to blame for the attack. "Most of the ATMs in Kerala function on Windows software".

Other Spanish firms to be hit included power firm Iberdrola and utility provider Gas Natural.

Patients at the Dharmais Cancer Hospital could not get queue numbers and waited several hours while staff found paper records, local media reported.

Lawrence Abrams, a New York-based blogger who runs BleepingComputer.com, says many organizations don't install security upgrades because they're anxious about triggering bugs, or they can't afford the downtime.

Bossert added that US officials were not disregarding the possibility that the global cyberattack was a "state action".

ALSO READ: Ransomeware attack: Why do WannaCry hackers demand bitcoin?

The identity of whoever deployed the software remains unknown.

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"An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen", Smith said. In addition to numerous public radio programs, he has reported for Reuters, PBS NewsHour, The Diplomat, and The Atlantic.

Smith also noted that Microsoft had issued a patch for the vulnerability in the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol exploited by WannaCry on March 14. Those who hadn't installed those patches before the "WannaCry" outbreak now have another reminder of how crucial it is to stay up-to-date.

They are now being forced to pay $300 (£230) to continue working on end-of-year projects due to be handed in soon, our correspondent says.

Microsoft added that "this attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem". Seconds after the researcher registered the domain, the malware stopped propagating. The cyber attack has dominated headlines for a number of days, with hackers requiring payment to allow users back into an estimated 230,000 computer systems across the world.

Microsoft itself is unlikely to face legal trouble over the flaw in Windows being exploited by WannaCry, according to legal experts. Note this means that the backup can't be on your computer but should be in the cloud or on an external hard drive.

Keep all the software on your computer up-to-date. And remember that any account can be compromised. This will make it much easier to spot potentially malicious files. You can find the patch here.

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