Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

WannaCry Ransomware: Apple Users Too Vulnerable To Such Attacks

"This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem", Microsoft president Brad Smith wrote in a blog post.

While the NSA has not commented on either the WannaCry attack or Microsoft's response, Tom Bossert, President Trump's Homeland Security advisor discussed at Monday's daily White House press briefing that the infection rate has been relatively low in the USA compared to overseas infection rates, and that no federal systems have been compromised.

Securities and banking regulators issued warnings to businesses and financial institutions to audit their networks before bringing computers online to limit damage from the intrusion. In addition to the many users attacked, large companies, like FedEx, Telefónica, and Deutsche Bahn, were also effected, leaving millions at risk.

Security agencies have so far not been able to identify who was behind the attack.

A young British cyber security expert who thwarted many attacks was hailed as a hero after he triggered a "kill switch" by buying and activating a domain that the malware had been programmed to connect infected computers to. 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. The organisation said it continues to experience IT disruption and urged the public to use other NHS services where possible.

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Still, he said, "Microsoft needs to admit that the 20th century is over, it's a much more hostile environment, and that hobbling the NSA won't make us any safer".

Russian President Vladimir Putin, noting the technology's link to the USA spy service, said it should be "discussed immediately on a serious political level".

Beijing has said previously it is a victim of hacking, although the United States has accused it of cyber attacks on U.S. government computer systems. Britain's National Health Service declared a "major incident" after the attack, which forced some hospitals to divert ambulances and scrap operations.

Qihoo has previously said the attack had infected close to 30,000 organisations by Saturday evening.

Images appeared on victims' screens demanding payment of $300 (275 euros) in Bitcoin, saying: "Ooops, your files have been encrypted!" After three days, the demand is hiked to $600 and after seven days, files will supposedly be deleted.

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In the wake of the attack, Microsoft released a patch for computers running older operating systems, including Windows IX, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003. The deputy director for health information privacy at the HHS Office for Civil Rights warned providers to be careful about opening email attachments.

Other cyber analysts note that some victims simply can't wait long enough to get someone to remove the ransomware from their computer and reformat their software.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it has not been affected by the attack but Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust communications manager Roy Probert said the trust is still remaining vigilant. Two employees at St Bartholomew's Hospital, which is part of Barts Health, told AFP that all the computers in the hospital had been turned off.

India's cyber security agency has alerted Internet users against damaging activities of "WannaCry"- that critically infects work stations and locks them remotely. For many, the phrase "cyber security attack" invokes an image of hackers performing a hostile takeover of a yacht's navigation system.

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