Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Ted Wilson

No second spike in cyber attacks is 'encouraging': British minister

No second spike in cyber attacks is 'encouraging': British minister

Apple's Mac computers were not targeted by this ransomware attack so are clear.

In Asia, thousands of new cases were reported on Monday as people came back to work and logged into their computers for the first time since the global outbreak on Friday. The study also found that 70 per cent of businesses infected with ransomware would pay the ransom.

Security experts tempered the alarm bells by saying that widespread attacks are tough to pull off.

Famous whistle-blower Edward Snowden tweeted that the malware used in the attack is a ransomware stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). One did not include the so-called kill switch that allowed researchers to interrupt the malware's spread Friday by diverting it to a dead end on the internet.

Prime Minister Theresa May said "warnings were given to hospital trusts" about the Microsoft vulnerability exploited by the attackers.

"The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake up call", Microsoft's president and chief legal officer, Brad Smith, wrote in a blog post about what is being called the largest ransomware attack ever. 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".

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The attacks exploited the computers because they were running outdated versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system.

In fact, Microsoft has never issued security updates for software as long retired from support as Windows XP, which fell off the list more than three years ago.

Russian Railways: State media said a virus attacked the IT system of Russian Railways, but it did not affect operations due to a prompt response.

If you haven't backed up your files, you might not be able to get them back.

National Health Service: At least sixteen NHS organizations have been hit, according to NHS Digital.

While Mr MacGibbon said Australia looks to have missed the worst of the attack as it didn't seem to have infected government agencies or critical infrastructure, people shouldn't be complacent. That cheap move redirected the attacks to MalwareTech's server, which operates as a "sinkhole" to keep malware from escaping.

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In Britain, where the WannaCry virus first raised global alarm when it caused hospitals to divert ambulances last Friday, some victims were ignoring official advice and paying the US$300 (S$420) ransom demanded by the cyber criminals to unlock their computers.

"One thing that is very important to note is our sinkholing only stops this sample and there is nothing stopping them removing the domain check and trying again, so it's incredibly important that any unpatched systems are patched as quickly as possible", MalwareTech warned. Unfortunately, the patch won't help computers that are already infected.

In the US, where the effects haven't appeared to be widespread, investigators believe additional companies have been attacked but have not yet come forward to report it, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.

British cybersecurity expert Graham Cluley doesn't want to blame the NSA for the attack.

"This is a trivial change for the malware originators or copy-cat authors and so even if a fresh attack does not materialise on Monday, we should expect it soon afterwards", she said. "But there's clearly some culpability on the part of the U.S. intelligence services". They were installing software to fix the problems.

He said most people "are living an online life", and these agencies have a duty to protect their countries' citizens in that realm as well.

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