WannaCry ransomware: Cash crunch hits ATMs in Bengaluru

Cesar Mills
May 19, 2017

They thought that they did everything that they could to defend their systems, but wannacry disabled many institutions so fast that in the countries most affected, many hospitals were unable to function even though their IT systems are usually the best when it comes to security. "People kind of got complacent and not vigilant about updating their machines", Mr Wysopal said. While it's a crude measure of the impact, it also appears that relatively few of those affected were desperate enough to actually pay the ransom demanded by the attackers.

"In our research we found that a large percentage of attacks globally by WannaCry happened in India and the country was third on the total number of attacks", said Altaf Halde, Managing Director, Kaspersky Lab, South Asia.

Microsoft blamed the US National Security Agency (NSA), from which crucial information regarding flaws in various global software systems was stolen in April.

Alex Abdo, a staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said Microsoft and other software companies have strategically settled lawsuits that could lead to court rulings weakening their licensing agreements.

The ACLU, meanwhile, urged Congress to pass a law requiring the government to disclose vulnerabilities to companies "in a timely manner", so that they can patch them as soon as possible.

It's hard to blame Microsoft, Litan said, since it issued fixes and generally did what it should.

Microsoft ended up distributing the free patch for the older versions on Friday - the day the ransomware was detected. 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.

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A network engineer of a secondary source software firm, who provides security solutions, said, "We were asked to work on weekend and monitor the servers". The company released an emergency patch for Windows XP (and Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003) last week to stop the ransomware from spreading.

As the technology surrounding the Internet of Things evolves, additional security layers will have to be incorporated in order to mitigate any vulnerabilities arising out of such complex connectivity.

NSA does not discuss its capabilities, and some computer experts say the MS17-010 exploit was developed by unknown parties using the name Equation Group (which may also be linked to NSA).

Friday's attack might prompt companies to reassess the balance.

Britain's National Cyber Security Center said it could have been much worse if not for a 22-year-old Britain-based cybersecurity researcher. Microsoft had already patched the vulnerabilities prior to the attack, but because many organisations had not updated their software, they remained vulnerable.

EternalBlue exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft operating systems. Europol, the European Union's police agency, said the onslaught was at "an unprecedented level and will require a complex worldwide investigation to identify the culprits".

Other reports by GizPress

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