Governments to blame for cyberattack

Angelica Greene
May 16, 2017

Cybersecurity researchers said a malicious program that disabled computers at Britain's National Health Service, Russia's Interior Ministry and companies and homes across dozens of countries Friday originated with the National Security Agency. It highlights how far many countries and organizations have yet to come in terms of defending themselves against cyber threats.

"The recent attack is at an unprecedented level and will require a complex global investigation to identify the culprits", Europol said in a statement.

Labour's shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, in a letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said concerns were repeatedly flagged about outdated computer systems.

The malicious software - known as WannaCrypt or WannaCry - is widely believed to have been developed as a hacking tool by the US National Security Agency. Researchers at Tripwrire describe it as "nothing out of the ordinary" but it still encrypts files on the infected computer and demands a ransom for unlocking them, rendering networks unusable until it is.

The anonymous specialist, known only as MalwareTech, issued a warning that hackers could upgrade the virus to remove the kill switch.

China's official Xinhua news agency said some secondary schools and universities had been affected, without specifying how many or identifying them. After "WannaCry", it released an emergency patch for older systems too. Of course now that we are aware of this, we will continue to host the domain to prevent any further infections from this sample.

WannaCry takes advantage of a Windows flaw discovered by the NSA and made public by hackers in April.

On Friday, a security researcher inadvertently created a "kill switch" to help stop the spread of this ransomware.

Shipping companies could protect their onboard and shore office networks from the latest ransomware that infected multiple companies and organisations over the weekend.

An estimated 200,000 computers globally were crippled on Friday itself, in the first wave of attacks, and the real impact will become evident as a new work week begins.

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In Germany, train operator Deutsche Bahn wrote on Twitter that signboards in stations were affected, though no train operations were affected. Among the other victims is a Nissan manufacturing plant in Sunderland, England.

Don't pay Like I said, paying ransomware does not guarantee its removal from your computer.

Ransomware works by hijacking a person's files and threatening to delete them without payment.

And all this may be just a taste of what's coming, a cyber security expert warned.

The ransomware was initially found spreading through attachments in email phishing campaigns.

"Looking at the trends, it was going to happen", he said.

Phillip Misner, the Prinicipal Security Manager for the Microsoft Security Response Center, a group tasked with delivering timely security fixes and setting the priority of exploits, took to the TechNet blog to explain the company's stance on the issue and the steps it has taken.

Microsoft's president and top lawyer said Sunday that the ongoing cyberattacks, which experts are calling the largest in history, should be a "wake-up call" for governments - especially the U.S.

The government recommends reporting ransomware immediately to the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the U.S. Secret Service, and advises against paying ransoms, saying that payment is no guarantee of recovering data, and that it only encourages further attacks. Back up your data on an offline hard drive. 4.

A British cyber whiz was hailed an "accidental hero" after he registered a domain name that unexpectedly stopped the spread of the virus, which exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows software.

Other reports by GizPress

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