Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Microsoft says WannaCry ransomware must be a wake-up call for governments

Microsoft says WannaCry ransomware must be a wake-up call for governments

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

Ransomware is a term that we will be hearing more about, and 2017 will go down as the year with the highest number of attacks.

So far there has been no progress reported in efforts to determine who launched the plot.

Christopher Dore, a lawyer at Edelson PC, said companies hit by the ransomware since they did not have the Microsoft update or were using the older Windows version could face lawsuits.

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Large swathes of the NHS were paralysed by the cyber attack , which hit 200,000 victims in 150 countries around the world. The Echo revealed yesterday that Southend Hospital acted in the nick of time to stop the attack causing widespread chaos.

The message - which initially circulated in India - also warned users that ATMs would be closed for the next few days due to the ransomware cyber attack, and urged them not to perform any online transactions until the issue was fixed. "We need government to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits", the company representative said.

Four days after the launch of a global ransomware attack, security officials were optimistic that the worst effects were subsiding even as they remained on edge about new attacks and lingering vulnerabilities.

In what one of the most significant cyberattacks ever recorded, computer systems from the Russia, Brazil and the USA were hit beginning Friday by malicious software that exploited a vulnerability in Microsoft's Windows operating system. Activating the domain worked as a kill switch for the malware. Advice on how to do that can be found on the UK's National Cyber Security Centre. He immediately claimed the URL for himself, spending about $11 to secure his access, and that greatly slowed the pace of infections in Britain. Even India was hit by his malware. The Computer Emergency Response Team has suggested using patches in users' Windows systems to prevent the bug from spreading.

The exploit, known as "EternalBlue" or "MS17-010", took advantage of a vulnerability in the Microsoft software that reportedly had been discovered and developed by the U.S. National Security Agency, which used it for surveillance activities. Whatever its source, it was published on the internet last month by a hacker group called ShadowBrokers.

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Television footage showed police officers restraining a man in a dark T-shirt and placing him in a police vehicle . Cheryl Howard and her daughter said they were "so freaked out" after seeing the vehicle "mow everyone down".

In March, Microsoft unveiled a patch to address the issue, but several users are yet to have their systems updated.

The Reserve Bank of India has already all banks to put in place a software update at ATMs to prevent their systems from a malware that has attacked payment systems across the world.

Utah Valley University professor Robert Jorgensen, director of the school's cybersecurity program, said ransomware and other cyberattacks are likely going to be a continued part of the landscape for a world now intrinsically linked with, and lived on, digital networks. "Otherwise they're literally fighting the problems of the present with tools from the past", it said.

The firm - who published a report two years prior to this global incident entitled "Cyber-security and the Internet of Things", prophesising cyber-attacks as "set to increase as hackers become more experienced and traditional tools to mitigate risks become less effective" - released a further warning after this latest episode. To continue the analogy, his solution suggests that the theft of a Tomahawk missile should mean that the USA government should remove them from its arsenal instead of tightening security controls around them. Following the WannaCry attack, one of the biggest in history, Microsoft itself has joined the ranks of the critics.

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Contrast this to the "surface web" that can easily found through a search engine. Affected users have been logged out of the website and the app.

Two factors seem to be contributing to the relatively low cash haul: low ransom requests of $300 to $600, and many victims refusing to pay - which is the advice proffered by most law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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