Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Science | By Hubert Green

Beware new ransomware Wannacry

The ransomware, also called WannaCry or Wana Decryptor, works by exploiting a vulnerability in some older versions of Windows.

The NSA exploit codes were leaked earlier this year by the Shadow Brokers hacking group which had previously been offering the U.S. government cyber weapons in exchange for millions of dollars in Bitcoin. Once the ransomware gets into a network, it spreads quickly onto any unpatched Windows computers.

Under former President Barack Obama, the USA government created an inter-agency review, known as the Vulnerability Equities Process, to determine whether flaws should be shared or kept secret. "Many of those will be businesses including large corporations". "They've been able to manage through it". He says while it may be time consuming, update your software when it says it has an update.

On Friday, the whole world was met with a cyber-attack like no other.

The security flaw that hackers used to launch the attacks on Friday was made public after information was stolen from the NSA, which routinely searches for flaws in software and builds tools to exploit them, the report said.

That's why companies are anxious to beef up security or combat potential infections, according to Aviv Grafi, the chief technology officer of Votiro, another cybersecurity firm.

Chinese state media said 29,372 institutions there had been infected along with hundreds of thousands of devices.

In a separate malware attack a year ago, 3.2 lakh debit card were compromised in the country. "However, Hitachi and others have mostly only reported loss of email and other secondary functionalities".

Energy giant PetroChina said payment systems at some petrol stations were hit although it had restored most of the systems.

Tom Bossert, US president Donald Trump's homeland security adviser, said people "should be thinking about this as an attack that for right now we have under control, but as an attack that represents an extremely serious threat", speaking on ABC's "Good Morning America" show.

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.

The identity of whoever deployed the software remains unknown.

Cyber security experts said the spread of the worm dubbed WannaCry - "ransomware" that locked up more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries - had slowed but that the respite might only be brief amid fears new versions of the worm will strike.

The software giant compared the severity of the attack with "the USA military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen". Yet in an unusual step, they released a patch for those older systems because of the magnitude of the outbreak. Install Microsoft's patch. 3.

Security solutions providers have also accelerated efforts to develop tools to tide over the crisis.

A security expert in England has been hailed as an "accidental hero" for quashing the spread of the initial version of the ransomware late Friday. But they appear to be less damaging than WannaCry. This allows for the installation and activation of additional software, such as malware.

"Thankfully some researchers are already registering the new domains as they identify them", AlienVault researcher Chris Doman says. "At that point, it will be harder to stop new variants".

The attack largely infected networks that used out-of-date software, such as Windows XP, which Microsoft no longer offers technical support for.

Microsoft, however, released a patch against the vulnerability on March 14, which could indicate that the company was notified by the U.S. intelligence agency that their tools using that particular backdoor had been compromised.

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