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WannaCry Ransomware attack: SL on list of affected countries

19 May 2017, 06:48 | Marlene Myers

'Perfect storm' of conditions helped cyberattack succeed

NSA's Hacking Tool and Wannacry Ransomware

The virus exploits vulnerability in Microsoft Windows software, first identified by the US National Security Agency. The attack quickly spread across the world, until a cybersecurity researcher accidentally found a kill switch in the code - an unregistered domain name that he purchased for $10.69 to halt the WannaCry hack, at least temporarily.

The hackers are believed to have used "cyber weapons" stolen from the US' National Security Agency to lock up computers and hold users' files for ransom.

Microsoft Corp. today took the unusual step of issuing security updates to address flaws in older, unsupported versions of Windows - including Windows XP and Windows 8.

A message will appear onscreen with a ransom demand, countdown timer, and bitcoin wallet to pay funds into. The attack mostly impacted computers in Europe and Asia and for the most part spared North America.

"I still expect another to pop up and be fully operational", Kalember said.

"In cases of genuine URLs close out the e-mail and go to the organisation's website directly through browser", it said.

Five South Korean companies reported that they had been affected by the ransomware attack.

New variants of the rapidly replicating worm were discovered Sunday and one did not include the so-called kill switch that allowed researchers to interrupt its spread Friday by diverting it to a dead end on the internet.

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The U.S. government clearly had its priorities wrong in not focusing on better protecting these cyberweapons, he said. Business take longer to install critical updates and patches, often to avoid impacting any legacy software they are running.

Concerns over India also being hit by the ransomware has led to public and private agencies working overtime to firewall their systems from any possible attack.

Mr MacGibbon said it was still not known how the virus had originated and then spread, although it was likely the transmission included email.

Smith also noted that Microsoft released a patch almost two months prior for the very vulnerability the WannaCrypt ransomware exploited, but a failure to install the patch left hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of computers around the world vulnerable.

Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger represents the cyber security capital of the world - Maryland's second district and home to the National Security Agency.

While this protected newer Windows systems and those with updates on, many computers remained unpatched.

Now, the company is offering free security fixes to everyone affected. This attack has impacted many large services and organizations, including hospitals in England, a telecom and natural gas company in Spain, and FedEx.

Never in history has a ransomware brought more than half the world's computers to a standstill.



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