Published: Tue, May 16, 2017
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Ransomware attack should be wake-up call for govts

Global cyber chaos is spreading Monday as companies boot up computers at work following the weekend's worldwide "ransomware" cyberattack.

India is on high alert, monitoring critical networks across sectors like banking, telecom, power and aviation to ensure that systems are protected against the attack that has claimed victims in more than 150 countries over the weekend.

A global ransomware attack struck hospitals, companies and government offices Friday and now cyber security experts fear more businesses may find they have been hacked come Monday.

"And it's why we've pledged our support for defending every customer everywhere in the face of cyber-attacks, regardless of their nationality".

His concerns were echoed by James Clapper, former director of national intelligence under President Barack Obama. So far, he said, not many people have paid the ransom demanded by the malware.

It started from Sweden, Britain and France, but Russian Federation and Taiwan are said to be the worst hit, according to USA media.

The security researcher, who is 22, was hailed an "accidental hero" for his discovery of the virus' kill switch.

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"This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem", he said.

"This should be a wakeup call for us", he told ABC radio this morning.

Darien Huss, a 28-year-old research engineer who helped MalwareTech, agreed the threat was far from over.

Keep security software up to date. "It should just be a case of making sure installing updates is enabled, installing the updates, and reboot".

This globetrotting "ransomware", reportedly stolen in April from the NSA's stockpile of cyberweapons, spreads via e-mail, exploiting vulnerabilities in Microsoft operating systems to encrypt users' files and lock them out of their computers.

Shortly after that disclosure, Microsoft announced that it had already issued software "patches", or fixes, for those holes - but many users haven't yet installed the fixes or are using older versions of Windows.

The national railway system said although it was attacked, rail operations were unaffected.

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Ransomware has a habit of mutating and so it changes over time in order to find different ways to access computers or to get around patches (operating system updates that often include security updates).

In the latest update, Chinese state media said more than 29,000 institutions across the country have been infected, along with hundreds of thousands of devices.

British cybersecurity expert Graham Cluley doesn't want to blame the NSA for the attack. It was among a large number of hacking tools and other files that a group known as the Shadow Brokers released on the Internet. "But there's clearly some culpability on the part of the US intelligence services".

Seven hospital trusts are still experiencing serious problems, among them St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, York Teaching Hospital NHS Trust and the University Hospitals of North Midlands Trust.

How many countries were affected?

The Windows software was installed on the submarines "to save money rather than meet the cost of a tailored system", says The Guardian, but nuclear subs "have been designed for nearly complete isolation when at sea", making them nearly impossible to hack. Because they can be used against you.

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