Ransomware attack should be wake-up call for govts

May 17 12:02 2017

Microsoft has criticised the USA government in the aftermath of a massive ransomware cyberattack that hit computers around the globe on Friday, after it emerged that the malware made use of a software exploited developed by the NSA (National Security Agency). Europol that said the malware has claimed some 200,000 victims across 150 countries and that the numbers are still going up.

As companies and individuals take stock Monday morning, the focus is turning to protecting against further attacks.

The ransom demand from the attack is between $300 to $600, and the post noted that there is code to “delete files” in the ransomware.

Though the governments and companies have been able to gain the upper hand, the ransomware could be back in a big way.

Hospitals are increasingly attempting to “harden” their systems by discarding unneeded software that would make systems more vulnerable, Burnette said. The malicious e-mail may come from them. This weekend’s virus was particularly virulent, because it could spread to all other computers on a network even if just one user clicked a bad link or attachment. The ransomware was created to repeatedly contact an unregistered domain in its code.

While that quick thinking may have slowed the outbreak, MalwareTech said he was now looking into a possible second wave of attacks. Copycat attacks could follow.

Avivah Litan, a cybersecurity analyst at Gartner, agreed that the government is “is negligent not doing a better job protecting companies”, but added that it’s not like “you can stop the US government from developing cybertools” that then work as intended.

It appears that the Middle East region avoided serious damage and disruption because of the timing of the attack.

The so-called WannaCry ransomware locks access to user files and demands money in the form of the virtual currency Bitcoin in order to decrypt them. The exploit was leaked last month as part of a trove of NSA spy tools. They were installing software to fix the problems.

Experts were urging organizations and companies to immediately update older Microsoft operating systems, such as Windows XP, with a patch released by Microsoft Corp.to limit vulnerability to a more powerful version of the malware – or to future versions that can’t be stopped.

The patches won’t do any good for machines that have already been hit. The longer victims pay, the longer ransomware will continue to grow, or at least that’s what leading cyber security firms believe and it’s why they advise against it. Security experts have discovered that the ransomware also uses NSA’s DoublePulsar as the backdoor.

But what do you do if the ransomware arrives on your computer? It’s affecting National Health Services computers in England and Scotland, according a report by The Guardian.

A ransomware attack called WannaCry that was first launched on 12 May and since spread around the world impacted a number of high-profile organisations globally, including NHS England in the UK. As of midafternoon Monday, a Twitter bot tracking payments to the wallets said the accounts had a total of a little over $55,000 in them.

In Japan, both Nissan and Hitachi reported some units had been affected, while in China energy giant PetroChina said that at some petrol stations customers had been unable to use its payment system.

Russia’s Interior Ministry acknowledged a ransomware attack on its computers.

AP  File 2016		The Microsoft logo in Issy-les-Moulineaux outside Paris France

Ransomware attack should be wake-up call for govts
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