Beware: Worldwide Ransomware Attack May Be Far from Over

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Computer experts were actually predicting such an incident could happen because of a very well publicized flaw in a number of versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Computer giant Microsoft said the attack, which has affected hundreds of thousands of computers, should serve as a wake-up call.

Microsoft called for a “Digital Geneva Convention” in February, asking for governments to report vulnerabilities to vendors, rather than stockpiling, selling or even using them.

“An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen”. People probably downloaded it from e-mail and allowed it to spread.

“I still expect another to pop up and be fully operational”, Kalember said. The firm said it had warned about the exponential growth of ransomware, or crimeware, as well as the dangers of sophisticated surveillance tools used by governments.

Over 100,000 government and private sector organisations in over 150 countries, to include hospitals, factories, businesses, and government departments have been affected though so far the Middle East has managed to avoid any serious disruption.

“I’m anxious about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn on their machines on Monday”, Europol director Rob Wainwright told Britain’s ITV television. The company rates the update as “critical” for supported Windows releases.

But some other technology industry executives said privately that it reflected a widely held view in Silicon Valley that the US government is too willing to jeopardize internet security in order to preserve offensive cyber capabilities. He also pointed his finger at intelligence services, since the latest vulnerability appeared to have been leaked from the National Security Agency. “Otherwise they’re literally fighting the problems of the present with tools from the past”, it said. The state’s Deputy Superintendent of Police, Palle Joshua, told CNNMoney that the impact would have been greater, but many districts took their systems offline as soon as the first attacks hit.

Hackers bait users to click on infected email links, open infected attachments or take advantage of outdated and vulnerable systems.

The White House held emergency meetings Friday and Saturday to assess the global cyber threat, a White House official said Sunday.

Lastly there are, of course, the attackers, who kidnapped precious data and demanded ransom be paid.

Cybersecurity firm Symantec has reported that its software managed to block almost 22 million WannaCry infection attempts across 300,000 endpoints. Many believed the malware was spread on unsupported systems like XP or Vista, but the data shows it instead went straight for the most popular Windows OS around, and one that is still supported by Microsoft. WannaCry is a ransomware that feeds on a particular Windows exploit and encrypts user data until they pay up.

Installing the patch is one way to secure computers against the virus. Some of these computers were used by Iranian hospitals. Microsoft issued a patch in March to address the flaw.

“It’s one of those things, in a flawless world, if people were up to date on the patches, this wouldn’t be a problem”, O’Leary said.

Rugaber reported from Washington. “But there are so many things to patch”.

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