Microsoft says ransomware attack should be a 'wake-up call' for governments

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. Rather, it's a Windows vulnerability that the NSA knew about, and which was disclosed in January 2017.

A group of hackers known as the Shadow Brokers said earlier this year that the NSA had tools for breaching the global system that allows for the transfer of money between banks. For organizations and individuals, chief among these is making sure that the software they run is kept up to date.

But did they? At the end of past year the software firm Citrix said that a Freedom of Information request had revealed that 90% of hospitals still had machines running on Windows XP.

"Users must update the patch MS-17010 provided by Microsoft using the source link http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/security/ms17-010.aspx".

This one worked because of a "perfect storm" of conditions, including a known and highly unsafe security hole in Microsoft Windows, tardy users who didn't apply Microsoft's March software fix, and malware created to spread quickly once inside university, business and government networks.

Not being able to access patient records was a huge problem for United Kingdom hospitals was a huge problem over the weekend, but the scenarios could be much worse in the future, when robotics could be used to perform increasingly important tasks. And according to many security researchers, the attack method was first developed inside the NSA.

Microsoft distributed a patch two months ago that could have forestalled much of the attack, but in many organizations it was likely lost among the blizzard of updates and patches that large corporations and governments strain to manage.

The good news is Wcry burned quickly - and burned out, and within a couple of days, was no longer a serious threat, although we will hear for weeks about infected systems, because some organisations will be slow to install the patches in Microsoft's security update.

Microsoft has already identified the way this specific strain of ransomware spread from device to device, and has issued a issued a fix.

At present, the so-called "kill switch" for the attack, discovered by a young British cybersecurity researcher, is no longer effective.

Around a fifth of the UK's NHS trusts were affected by the virus, also known as WannaCry, with concerns being raised that many sensitive networks were vulnerable because they were still using outdated Windows XP software.

Interior Ministry: The Russian Interior Ministry acknowledged a ransomware attack on its computers, adding that less than 1% of computers were affected.

He agreed with Smith's statement that the attack should serve as a wake-up call to all about cybersecurity.

Microsoft released a security patch for the vulnerabilities in March.

The NSA and Microsoft did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Several of which, like WannaCry, have been disclosed by hackers, thus, increasing the likelihood that such vulnerability will be exploited just like WannaCry. However, ransomware attacks could also be perpetrated in respect of control systems or other critical process activities.

"People simply don't follow the security best practices", Upadhyaya told Fox News.

Data Backups. Organizations should regularly back up important data.

Spain, meanwhile, activated a special protocol to protect critical infrastructure in response to the "massive infection" of personal and corporate computers in ransomware attacks.

"We have around 70 computers that have had a unsafe code installed", said Andreaz Stromgren, the mayor of Timra, about 400 km north of the capital Stockholm. No company is completely immune. An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could craft a special packet, which could lead to information disclosure from the server.

The crippling attack has wreaked havoc on some hospitals, transport systems, phone companies and assembly lines around the world, and according to experts, is still on a war path.

Vanessa Coleman

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