WannaCry Ransomware: Microsoft Calls Out NSA For ‘Stockpiling’ Vulnerabilities

May 16 11:27 2017

The attack disrupted at least 16 hospitals in England as well as large worldwide companies including FedEx, telecom companies Telefónica of Spain and Megafon of Russian Federation and auto maker Nissan.

Theresa May addressed the issue on the campaign trail, praising NHS staff but making clear the NHS had been warned about potential cyber weakness.”It was clear that warnings were given to hospital trusts but this is not something that focused on attacking the NHS here on the United Kingdom”, she said in Oxford.

In a statement it said: “East Kent Hospitals unaffected by yesterday’s cyber attack”.

Such programs stop users from accessing their files until they make a payment in Bitcoin.

CERT-In has issued a list of dos and don’ts and webcast on how to protect networks from the global ransomware attack.

USA software firm Symantec said the majority of organisations affected were in Europe, and the attack was believed to be indiscriminate.

Universities and other educational institutions in China were among the hardest hit, possibly because schools tend to have old computers and be slow to update operating systems and security, said Fang Xingdong, founder of ChinaLabs, an internet strategy think tank.

The attack, which was an attempt to extort millions from the affected entities, was stopped when the researcher, identified only as “MalwareTech“, discovered the “kill switch” and put an end to the scheme.

Friday’s initial attack came from ransomware, which is a piece of software that invades computer systems and takes control of files.

A divert remained in place for trauma, stroke and urgent heart attack treatment, where diagnostic services are required, at the Lister Hospital, part of East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust (Midlands & East).

“Unlike most other attacks, this malware is spreading primarily by direct infection from machine to machine on local networks, rather than purely by email”, said Lance Cottrell, chief scientist at the USA technology group Ntrepid.

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. Noting that the malware had so far only attacked computers with Windows XP, he said a plot to eliminate the OS could not be ruled out. After computers are disabled, a message pops up demanding a ransom.

“I still expect another to pop up and be fully operational”, Kalember said.

“We anticipated it as a have-a-go type attack but with this being transformed has changed the landscape quite dramatically”.

Organizations are scrambling to apply the latest security patch to their computers to prevent the spread of the attack.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump appointed his homeland security adviser, Thomas P. Bossert, to coordinate a response.

When the National Security Agency lost control of the software behind the WannaCry cyberattack, it was like “the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen”, Microsoft President Brad Smith says, in a message about the malicious software that has created havoc on computer networks in more than 150 countries since Friday. Bossert said the US hasn’t ruled out involvement by a foreign government, but that the recent ransom demands suggest a criminal network.

Europol senior spokesman Jan Op Gen Oorth told AFP Monday: “The number of victims appears not to have gone up and so far the situation seems stable in Europe, which is a success”.

“If you have anything to patch, patch it”, the researcher said in a blog post.

EU's law enforcement agency Europol director Rob Wainwright

WannaCry Ransomware: Microsoft Calls Out NSA For ‘Stockpiling’ Vulnerabilities
 
 
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