Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Health Care | By Jan Bell

WannaCry Ransomware: Microsoft Calls Out NSA For 'Stockpiling' Vulnerabilities

WannaCry Ransomware: Microsoft Calls Out NSA For 'Stockpiling' Vulnerabilities

"We will get a decryption tool eventually, but for the moment, it's still a live threat and we're still in disaster recovery mode", Rob Wainwright, the head of the European Union's law enforcement agency Europol, told CNN's Becky Anderson on Sunday.

Attacker will send an email which contains viruses.

Once inside an organization, WannaCry uses a Windows vulnerability purportedly identified by the NSA and later leaked to the internet.

The U.K. government's cyber office put it succinctly: "T$3 he way these attacks work means that compromises of machines and networks that have already occurred may not yet have been detected, and that existing infections from the malware can spread within networks". But the researcher's actions may have saved companies and governments millions of dollars and slowed the outbreak before computers in the US were more widely affected.

"It's an worldwide attack and a number of countries and organizations have been affected", she said. But hospitals in the United Kingdom, and global firms like Fedex also reported they had come under assault.

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, at a meeting in Italy, said Saturday the attack was a reminder of the importance of cybersecurity.

The attack, known as "WannaCry" had a major impact across Asia as workers there returned to work on Monday, with Chinese state media saying nearly 30,000 institutions there had been infected. Experts say this vulnerability has been understood among experts for months, yet too many groups failed to take it seriously. It locks the user out in order to prevent them from accessing any saved files until they pay a certain amount of money.

In the aftermath of the attack, Microsoft has pointed fingers at the USA for its role in the spread of the malware, while security experts warn that a more lethal version of the virus could be unleashed on computers this week.

The initial attack was stifled when a security researcher disabled a key mechanism used by the worm to spread, but experts said the hackers were likely to mount a second attack because so many users of personal computers with Microsoft Corp. operating systems couldn't or didn't download a security patch released in March that Microsoft had labeled "critical".

The Seattle-based tech giant issued guidance for people to protect their systems, while taking the highly unusual step of reissuing security patches first made available in March for Windows XP and other older versions of its operating system. Although it won't do any good for machines that have already been hit. So even people with older computers should go update them. Wainwright said Europol did not know the motive.

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The WannaCry ransomware appears to only attack unpatched computers running Windows 10.

As part of a comprehensive information governance program, ensure that you have a thorough incident response plan in place that contemplates the occurrence of a ransomware attack.

Barts Health, which runs five hospitals in London, said Sunday it was still experiencing disruption to its computer systems and it asked for the public to use other NHS services wherever possible.

Consumers who have up-to-date software are protected from this ransomware. State media reported that digital payment systems at PetroChina gas stations were offline, forcing customers to pay cash. Security experts say this attack should wake up every corporate board room and legislative chamber around the globe. The main challenge for investigators was the fast-spreading capabilities of the malware, he said, but added that so far, not many people have paid the ransoms that the virus demands. More than 200,000 computers have been affected so far. Russian Federation and Ukraine had a heavy concentration of infections, according to Dutch security company Avast Software BV.

He warned governments against stockpiling such vulnerabilities and said instead they should report them to manufacturers - not sell, store or exploit them, lest they fall into the wrong hands.

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