Ransomware attack should be wake-up call for govts
Ransomware attack should be wake-up call for govts
18 May, 2017, 16:42
The malware on Friday exploited a Windows vulnerability that came to light through an NSA cyberweapons leak last month.
Computer users should patch their machines with updates from Microsoft, especially those using older versions of operating systems such as Windows XP.
Microsoftsaid it had released a Windows security update in March to tackle the problem involved in the latest attack, but many users were yet to run it.
It said the majority of the attacks targeted Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan. The cyber attack was so serious that the National Health Service was almost shut down. "I am anxious about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn their machines on Monday morning".
This is exactly what happened with the ransomware attack. The study also found that 70 per cent of businesses infected with ransomware would pay the ransom. Some of the victims have reportedly regained access to their files after paying, although security experts advise against complying with ransom demands. Patched computers carry a much lower risk of being infected by malware or ransomware than those without an update.
Finding out who was behind the malware is going to be very hard.
Railway stations, mail delivery, gas stations, hospitals, office buildings, shopping malls and government services were affected, the news agency said, citing the Threat Intelligence Center of Qihoo 360, a Chinese internet security services company. Microsoft has quickly been issuing fixes to contain the situation.
Ironically, large scale attacks such as these do have the effect of highlighting the threat of malware attacks and cybersecurity in general.
Europol said Saturday that the attack was of an "unprecedented level and requires worldwide investigation". The frequency and scale of attacks also gives us a measure of how effectively companies and countries are prepared for cybersecurity attacks of any kind.
Although the ransomware continued to spread at a more subdued pace yesterday, many companies and government agencies were still struggling to recover from the first attack. "Because they could have done something ages ago to get this problem fixed, and they didn't do it". It has attacked hundreds of thousands of computers, security experts say, from hospital systems in the United Kingdom and a telecom company in Spain to universities and large companies in Asia. If you don't know, double check with the sender.
Just one click on an infected attachment or bad link would lead to all computers in a network becoming infected, said Vikram Thakur, technical director of Symantec Security Response. It had urged computer users to install and upgrade security software. Better still, set the system to automatically do this on your behalf.
Using antivirus software will at least protect you from the most basic, well-known viruses by scanning your system against the known fingerprints of these pests.
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