Following ransomware attack, Microsoft urges governments to 'wake up'

Angelica Greene
May 20, 2017

An online extortion attack that authorities say swept 150 countries this weekend is part of a growing problem of "ransomware" scams, in which people find themselves locked out of their files and presented with a demand to pay hackers to restore their access.

Telecommunications company Telefonica TEF.MC was among many targets in Spain, though it said the attack was limited to some computers on an internal network and had not affected clients or services.

He urged governments to change their approach and "adhere in cyberspace to the same rules applied to weapons in the physical world".

In what one of the most significant cyberattacks ever recorded, computer systems from the U.K.to Russia, Brazil and the United States were hit beginning Friday by malicious software that exploited a vulnerability in Microsoft's Windows operating system.

Former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden echoed that criticism on Twitter.

Currently, there is no permanent fix that could end the wrath of this ransomware, but here are a few pointers that could help you in protecting your Windows PC if it has not been attacked yet. "There's no waving that away". This is one reason we called in February for a new "Digital Geneva Convention" to govern these issues, including a new requirement for governments to report vulnerabilities to vendors, rather than stockpile, sell, or exploit them.

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The researcher tweeted that he initially didn't know that his actions would stop the malware. The extensive damage done during the course of the hack shows the importance of addressing security flaws and creating the policy to prevent such exploitation in the future. The VEP was established to determine whether the government should withhold or disclose information about computer software security vulnerabilities. Also, it had advised users to update their systems to deploy the patch for the vulnerability (MS17-010).

WannaCrypt connects to the domain in question to see if it is up. The ransomware, which spread using an exploit on SMB protocol, encrypted nearly all the files available on the infected devices.

Europol's European Cybercrime Centre said that anyone hit by ransomware should use the unlocking tools provided at NoMoreRansom.org, a free resource developed by Europol in partnership with the Dutch police and other industry partners.

Microsoft said it had taken the "highly unusual step" of releasing a patch for computers running older operating systems including Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003.

He said tech companies, customers and the government need to "work together" to protect against attacks.

Attacks like this one, dubbed "WannaCry" for the WannaCrypt technology used to execute it, happen when a type of software seizes control of a computer, encrypting its contents and rendering them inaccessible.

Other reports by GizPress

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