Cyberattack havoc could grow as work week begins

Marlene Weaver
May 18, 2017

Microsoft, which on Friday took the unusual step of issuing a custom security update for users whose systems no longer receive regular support, has urged users with older versions of Windows to patch the vulnerability as soon as possible.

Victims were asked for payment of $300 (275 euros) in the virtual currency Bitcoin.

People are anxious a second wave of cyberattacks could strike around the world on Monday as employees return to their desks and log onto their computers.

Payment is demanded within three days or the price is doubled, and if none is received within seven days, the files will be deleted, according to the screen message.

Avast, an global security software firm that claims it has 400 million users worldwide, said the ransomware attacks rose rapidly Saturday to a peak of 57,000 detected intrusions. The weakness in cyber security makes the country vulnerable to many other criminal activities that have been facilitated by the internet.

The government on Sunday said it has activated a "preparedness and response mechanism" to prevent any major cyberattack from the new ransomware WannaCry which has infected computer systems around the world.

Fortunately, the spread of WannaCrypt was unceremoniously halted when a security researcher registered a previously-unregistered domain being queried by the malware.

That quick thinking may have saved governments and companies millions of dollars and slowed the outbreak before USA -based computers were more widely infected. The person credited with slowing down the malware attack is a 22-year old British cybersecurity researcher who accidentally stumbled upon a kill-switch in the software.

WanaCryptor 2.0 is only part of the problem. Bad guys generally target Windows far more than Apple's operating system because there are vastly more computers running Windows around the world. "We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the Central Intelligence Agency show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world". Experts say this vulnerability has been understood among experts for months, yet too many organizations either failed to take it seriously or chose not to share what they'd found. The tools were made public by a hacking group called the Shadow Brokers.

"T$3 his attack demonstrates the degree to which cybersecurity has become a shared responsibility between tech companies and customers", Smith said in his blog post.

"The affected computers are those with old Windows, issued in 2008 or earlier".

People are reflected in a glass sign of a Telefonica building in Madrid, Spain, May 13, 2017.

Firstly, you're only likely to be affected if you use a Windows operating system.

As reported by AFP, the fast-moving wave of cyberattacks exploited a flaw exposed by leaks of documents from the US National Security Agency.

Eiichi Moriya, a cybersecurity expert and professor at Meiji University, warned that paying the ransom would not guarantee a fix.

NHS Digital, which oversees United Kingdom hospital cybersecurity, said it sent alerts about the problem - and a patch to fix it - to health service staff and IT professionals last month.

The ransomware is spread by taking advantage of a Windows vulnerability that Microsoft released a security patch for in March.

Britain's National Health Services first sounded the ransomware alarm Friday.

The White House held emergency meetings Friday and Saturday to assess the global cyber threat, a White House official said Sunday.

Backup your system fully and on a regular basis.

Other reports by Insurance News

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