Ransomware attack should be a 'wake-up call' for governments

Reuters

While governments and corporations scramble to perform damage control, here's what we know about the origins of this cyber attack, who might be to blame and what you can do to protect yourself.

Once your system has ransomware, your choices are limited: pay or don't pay. Most stations had recovered.

"Obviously, they want those tools in order to spy on people of interest, on other countries, to conduct surveillance", Cluley said. "As a result, hospitals, businesses, governments, and computers at homes were affected". The Spanish government said several companies including Telefonica had been targeted in ransomware cyberattack that affected the Windows operating system of employees' computers.

Washington Post technology reporter Brian Fung suggested that this was one major lesson politicians should take away from the debacle: The concept of law enforcement agencies having "back doors" to computer programs and systems, even if it is for national security reasons, dramatically increases the risk that criminal groups or other bad actors will also find these vulnerabilities. Investigators are looking for those behind the hack that affected systems at banks, hospitals and government agencies globally, media reports said.

But if you are using Windows 10 or any of the other version such as, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 systems, you'll be protected as long as your automatic updates are enabled, which is set "on" as standard.

Brad Smith criticized USA intelligence agencies, including the CIA and National Security Agency, for "stockpiling" software code that can be used by hackers.

Worldwide standards should compel countries not to stockpile or exploit software vulnerabilities, Smith says.

"An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the USA military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen", attorney Brad Smith wrote on Microsoft's blog.

Exploits in the hands of governments have repeatedly leaked into the public domain and caused widespread damage, wrote Smith, who compared the leaks of Central Intelligence Agency and NSA vulnerabilities to the USA military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen.

The virus dubbed WannaCry, a so-called ransomware, has locked up more than 100,000 computers and sent cybersecurity experts scrambling on Sunday to patch computers and restore infected ones.

It said Sunday that a similar cyberattack could also recur, though it did not have "specific evidence" of this. Europol that said the malware has claimed some 200,000 victims across 150 countries and that the numbers are still going up.

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First, install any software updates immediately and make it a regular habit.

Some organizations disconnect computers as a precautionary measure.

Asked as to how one should trust such hackers about regaining complete access of the system, he said, "Ideally, we have instructed people not to pay the ransom".

It is believed to be the biggest online extortion recorded.

Though the worm is primarily affecting business, individuals with PCs running Windows should still take a few precautions.

Clapper and Europol say the scope of the problem may become bigger Monday when people switch on their computers. The NHS has said hospitals have had to cancel some outpatient appointments because of the attack.

He said it was too early to say who is behind the onslaught and what their motivation was. The ransom demanded of each infected computer was a little more than $300 or so.

A ransomware attack that began in Europe on Friday is lingering - and hitting new targets in Japan and China. It crippled the British health care system for a day, infecting almost 20 percent of its health care groups, forcing medical treatments to be canceled or postponed for thousands of people. The company said the virus has been localized and "technical work is underway to destroy it and update the antivirus protection".

"WannaCry", as the ransomware is known, uses a Windows vulnerability originally identified by the NSA, according to security experts. This money would be paid in the digital currency bitcoin to an unknown source, who would - in theory, at least - provide a decryption key to unlock the system.

The banks predicts the attack will prompt folks to upgrade, which is a good thing for Microsoft because it will increase the number of new Office 360 Commercial subscriptions.

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