Running Windows? How to protect against the big ransomware attack

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NHS Digital, which oversees United Kingdom hospital cybersecurity, said it sent alerts about the problem - and a patch to fix it - to health service staff and IT professionals last month. In Indonesia, the ransomware locked patient files on computers in two hospitals in the capital, Jakarta, causing delays. But computers and networks that didn't update their systems were still at risk.

The attack had hit more than 200,000 hospitals, corporations, government agencies and other organizations in 150 countries by Monday.

In Japan, companies such as Hitachi and Nissan reported problems but said their operations had not been seriously affected. Russia's Interior Ministry and companies including Spain's Telefonica, FedEx Corp.in the USA and French carmaker Renault all reported troubles.

The WannaCry worm has affected more than 200,000 Windows computers around the world since Friday, disrupting vehicle factories, global shipper FedEx Corp and Britain's National Health Service, among others.

"We are continuing to work around the clock to support NHS organizations that have reported any issue due to yesterday's cyberattack", NHS Digital said in a statement Saturday.

The bad news is, older versions of Windows operating systems are no longer supported and do not receive these critical Security Updates.

The ransomware in question, WannaCry, relies on a flaw in the Windows 10 code for which Microsoft issued a patch on March 14.

Called WannaCry, the fast-spreading malware is the first-ever detected to combine both a worm - which enables it to burrow into an entire network from a single infected computer - and a ransomware, demanding US$300 (S$420) in the virtual currency Bitcoin to unlock systems. One did not include the so-called kill switch that allowed researchers to interrupt the malware's spread Friday by diverting it to a dead end on the internet.

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It's these group efforts will help curb the spread of the virus.

Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, secretary Aruna Sundararajan told a news agency the government was constantly monitoring the situation and that a few stand-alone computers of a police department were "back in action" after being infected over the weekend.

The newest strains install the same files and archives as the initial attack, encrypting anything the virus can reach on a computer like hard drives and external storage devices.

"We haven't fully dodged this bullet at all until we're patched against the vulnerability itself", Kalember said.

Microsoft's president and top lawyer said Sunday that the ongoing cyberattacks, which experts are calling the largest in history, should be a "wake-up call" for governments - especially the U.S. But some experts have argued this attack could have been vastly mitigated if the NSA told Microsoft sooner. Bossert said the USA hasn't ruled out involvement by a foreign government, but that the recent ransom demands suggest a criminal network.

"We found the problems this morning".

Tempting as it may be in order to resolve your crisis quickly, law enforcement and cybersecurity experts don't recommend paying the ransom. "It's like after a robber enters your home". If you haven't changed your automatic update settings then you should be fine.

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