Global Ransomware Attack: What Your Organization Needs to Know Now

Global Ransomware Attack: What Your Organization Needs to Know Now

Global Ransomware Attack: What Your Organization Needs to Know Now

The harsh lesson to be learned is that we have to better protect our systems, at the individual, corporate and government levels.

The security firm Kaspersky Lab, based in Russian Federation, noted that Microsoft had repaired the software problem that allows backdoor entry into its operating systems weeks before hackers published the exploit linked to the NSA, but also said: "Unfortunately it appears that many users have not yet installed the patch".

The attack looks like this: images appear on victims' screens demanding payment of $300 (275 euros) in the virtual currency Bitcoin, saying: "Ooops, your files have been encrypted!" Wainwright said Europol did not know the motive.

The estimated 200,000 computers crippled worldwide by last week's mammoth ransomware attack could be only the tip of the iceberg, security experts said Sunday. At the height of the attack Friday and early Saturday, 48 organizations in the NHS were affected, and hospitals in London, North West England and Central England urged people with non-emergency conditions to stay away as technicians tried to stop the spread of the malicious software.

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

He said the affected computers likely had not applied the Microsoft patch or were running old operating systems for which no patch was available.

A message informing visitors of a cyber attack is displayed on the NHS website on May 12.

The software giant's chief legal officer Brad Smith said the ransomware attack that had crippled operations from Britain's National Health Service to courier heavweight Federal Express was the equivalent of the U.S. military having a Tomahawk missile stolen.

The perpetrators have demanded payment within three days or the price will double, and they threaten to delete the files altogether if payment is not received within seven days. The attack has now continued to spread; hitting thousands of computers in China and Japan today.

Hospitals are also fertile ground for identity thieves due to their often-lax security policies. The attacks used to only be able to target one machine at a time. The ease of stopping the attack suggests the hackers were new to this game. FedEx said it was "experiencing interference", the Associated Press reported.

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In a statement dated Sunday, Qihoo 360 said the ransomware had spread particularly quickly through higher education, affecting more than 4,000 Chinese universities and research institutions.

Labour's shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, in a letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said concerns were repeatedly flagged about outdated computer systems. Nonetheless, the experts say such widespread attacks are tough to pull off.

Indonesia's government reported two hospitals in Jakarta were affected.

Microsoft says now it will make the fixes free for everyone.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software which blocks access to data until a ransom is paid.

At the moment, all PCs that do not have the latest Microsoft security updates are vulnerable to attack by the ransomware.

The attack was apparently halted in the afternoon in the United Kingdom when a researcher took control of an Internet domain that acted as a kill switch for the worm's propagation, according to Ars Technica. The 22-year-old Britain-based researcher, identified online only as MalwareTech, explained that he spotted a hidden web address in the "WannaCry" code and made it official by registering its domain name. Yet in an unusual step, they released a patch for those older systems because of the magnitude of the outbreak.

Cybersecurity firm Avast said it tracked more than 75,000 ransomware attacks in 99 countries on Friday.

"Ransomware is traditionally their topic", he said.

For instance, the Conficker virus, which first appeared in 2008 and can disable system security features, also spreads through vulnerabilities in internal file sharing.

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