Ransomware cyber-attack a wake-up call

As the first wave of WannaCry attacks struck computers across the world, Microsoft not only advised Windows users to patch their systems, but also upgrade their anti-virus software which acts as the first line of defence in detecting malware. While having a plan won't make a disaster any more pleasant, it should at least allow you to recover more quickly.

Urging businesses and computer users to keep their systems current and updated, Smith says the WannaCry attack shows the importance of collective action to fight cybercrime. He added it was a helpful thing that the company had set up a patch capable of stopping the attack. It was responsible for crippling Britain's hospital network and Germany's railway, along with other governments and infrastructures worldwide.

Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has come out with list of dos and don'ts and webcast on how to protect networks from the global ransomware attack.

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That means an out-of-date, unsupported operating system is more popular than any version of Windows 8, any version of Mac OS X, and Linux.

Experts say the spread of the virus had been stymied by a security researcher in the United Kingdom hackers have issued new versions of the virus that cyber security organizations are actively trying to counter and stamp out. Ransomware is a kind of malware that encrypts your information on the computer and prevents users from accessing the files on their system until a certain amount is paid. The virus displays a message asking for $300 ransom in bitcoins to unlock the system.

Here are the steps to prevent your computer from the attack, as reported by CNET.

"People have extremely short memories when it comes to this", said Jan Dawson, an analyst with Jackdaw Research. A new variant of the WannaCry attack surfaced on Monday, according to cybersecurity firm Check Point Software Technologies, but the firm stopped it by using the kill switch, Reuters reports. The hack used a technique purportedly stolen from the US National Security Agency to target Microsoft's market-leading Windows operating system. However, it also exploits a Windows networking flaw to spread more aggressively, like a worm.

"I'm surprised that it took this long for someone to use the ShadowBrokers leak", said Georgia Weidman, founder and CTO of the Shevirah cyber-security company, who noted that the malware exploit a vulnerability in Windows that's existed for almost a decade. Last week, someone pulled the trigger.

This vicious piece of code is a type of a Trojan encryptor created to extort money from users by holding their data to ransom. That may not be easy.

"It's not rocket science", Litan said.

One area that may lead to coverage disputes would be the ease with which the problem could have been avoided, he said.

"Using outdated versions of Windows that are no longer supported raises a lot of questions", Dore explained. They say it will continue to spread in a modified form. Many cybercriminals do this because gift card numbers can be easily traded for cash in the criminal underground, and the transactions aren't a matter of public record.

Lawrence Abrams, a New York-based blogger who runs BleepingComputer.com, says many organizations don't install security upgrades because they're anxious about triggering bugs, or they can't afford the downtime.

  • Latoya Cobb