Published: Mon, May 22, 2017
Industry | By Dora Warner

Cyber-Security Experts Fear the Progression Of 'WannaCry' Ransomware

"The WannaCry ransomware attack is the largest we've ever seen", said Mike Fey, president and chief operating officer at Symantec.

So if you've rebooted since your computer was hit by WannaCry, you might be out of luck. The victims have been advised not to pay the $300 ransom requested by the hackers, who've threatened to wipe PCs of those who don't pay up in a given timeframe.

Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Jiangxi province were most affected, a report released by 360 Threat Intelligence Center on Saturday said. And just as they are unlikely to pay for an upgrade to their operating systems, they may not want to - or be able to - pay for security fixes.

With 200,000 victims across 150 countries, including the NHS from Friday's ransomware attack, the sheer speed and scale at which a cyber attack can manifest is phenomenal. "As expected, the attackers have released new variants of the malware". There are also other theories.

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India is third on the list of countries affected by the malware.

"WannaCry" has disrupted networks in over 150 countries, including Russian Federation and the United Kingdom and is being termed as one of the most widespread cyber attacks in the history. It could have acted fast and offer the security patch for older systems like Windows XP.

Microsoft called the incident a "wake-up" call for governments and customers to take security seriously, but in a letter to the Times Sir David Omand, GCHQ director from 1996 to 1997, pins the blame squarely on the technology firm for failing to maintain support for its ageing Windows XP platform. He estimates Microsoft will generate earnings-per-share of $3.35 in fiscal 2018 compared to the Wall Street consensus of $3.31. In addition to this, another controversial pricing issue is that Microsoft is now charging users for additional security in the latest Windows 10 version. As is becoming all too common, the hackers transmitted the ransomware via a phishing e-mail, and then, once the user clicked the bait, the hackers used a method thought to have been developed by the National Security Agency, and locked businesses out of their systems.

However, Microsoft was not doing a favour by "taking this highly unusual step" for its paying customers, and could be sued for neglecting its users.

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A loose-knit team of security researchers scattered across the globe said they had collaborated to develop a workaround to unlock the encryption key for files hit in the global attack, which several independent security researchers have confirmed.

When Microsoft sells its operating system software it does so through a licence agreement that states the company is not liable for any security breaches, thus shielding it from any legal complaints, points out Michael Scott, a professor at Southwestern Law School. Updating software will take care of some vulnerability.

And now, the group named Shadow Brokers, that had leaked the tools from the U.S. national security agency's stockpile of cyber weapons, which were used by hackers for the recent attacks has said in a blog that it would be releasing hacking tools every month.

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