Cyber attack 'wake-up call for governments — Microsoft chief

Angelica Greene
May 16, 2017

Countries around the world braced Monday for the spread of a massive ransomware cyberattack crippling thousands of computers at banks, hospitals and government institutions.

"The numbers are still going up", Wainwright said.

His concerns were echoed by James Clapper, former director of national intelligence under President Barack Obama.

The "WannaCry" attack grabbed headlines around the world because of its scale, but it's just one of many types of ransomware that cybersecurity experts see every day.

Microsoft released a patch in March, but computers and networks that hadn't updated their systems were still at risk. He said it was too early to say who was behind the onslaught and what their motivation was, aside from the obvious demand for money. So far, not many people have paid the ransom demanded by the malware, Europol spokesman Jan Op Gen Oorth told The Associated Press.

There are reports of infections in 99 countries, including Russian Federation and China.

Chinese media reported Sunday that students at several universities were hit, blocking access to their thesis papers and dissertation presentations. Some researchers warn that copycat attacks could follow. That cheap move redirected the attacks to MalwareTech's server, which operates as a "sinkhole" to keep malware from escaping.

While that quick thinking may have slowed the outbreak, MalwareTech said he was now looking into a possible second wave of attacks. That's because it's a very easy way to make money.

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In this particular case, Microsoft Window's vulnerability was exploited by the criminal group behind wannacry ransomware.

TechCrunch, an online tech site, reported last month the Shadow Brokers recently used hacked NSA code that could have been created to target the worldwide flow of money.

"Microsoft released a patch for the vulnerability in March and machines that were updated with the patch would have been automatically protected", Dr Pantami said.

Microsoft rolled out over the weekend a patch for Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 8, which are operating systems for which it no longer provides mainstream support. "Because they could have done something ages ago to get this problem fixed, and they didn't do it". Short of paying, options for these individuals and companies are usually limited to recovering data files from a backup, if available, or living without them.

Moreover, researchers at Malwarebytes have confirmed that the attack uses hacking tools that were previously used by the NSA to take remote control of Windows machines, speaking to the potency of the software.

Nobody seems to know exactly who the Shadow Brokers are and how they grabbed the data, but the denizens of the dark side of the web have dumped a gigabyte worth of the NSA weaponized software in the past eight months, according to The Intercept. "But there's clearly some culpability on the part of the USA intelligence services". Jonathan Zittrain, a professor specializing in internet law at Harvard Law School, said courts have frequently dismissed lawsuits against the agency on the grounds they might result in the disclosure of top secret information.On top of that, the NSA would likely be able to claim that it is shielded from liability under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, which says that the government cannot be sued over carrying out its official duties."I doubt there can be any liability that stems back to the NSA", Dore said. Otherwise they're literally fighting the problems of the present with tools from the past. "It's a handy thing to have, but it's a unsafe thing to have".

They proposed a plan to improve cyber security that included a replacement of outdated systems "as a matter of urgency", calling its continued use "one of the most pressing issues facing IT infrastructure" in the NHS. "And that's what's happening right now".

Other reports by GizPress

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