Ransomware attack should be wake-up call for governments

Isaac Cain
May 20, 2017

Several British hospitals say they are having major computer problems Hospitals in London, northwest England and other parts of the country are reporting problems with their computer systems as the result of an apparent cyberattack, Friday May 12, 2017.

WannaCrypt spreads rapidly and encrypts files on victims' computes with the 2048-bit AES algorithm, before demanding a ransom of US$300 or US$600 (A$406 - A$812) payable in Bitcoin.

Microsoft Windows users, brace yourselves.

WannaCry, also known as WanaCrypt0r 2.0, WannaCry and WCry, is a form of "ransomware"+ that locks up the files on your computer and encrypts them in a way that you can not access them anymore".

How can users protect their computers? If the NSA simply disclosed their software vulnerabilities to the software manufacturers instead of hiding it and creating malware, perhaps the WannaCry ransomware attack would not have happened, or at least would not have occurred on such a significant scale.

The so-called "Wannacry" virus notably attacks Windows XP, which in principle has not been supported by Microsoft since 2014. India also has the most number of pirated software users. The software first infected Britain's National Health Service (NHS) before spreading to as many as 150 countries. "As expected, the attackers have released new variants of the malware".

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The cyber criminals, whose identities are still unknown, also rebounded from the kill switch activation by releasing a second variation of the malware. The reason is WannaCry Ransomware attack will take place soon after they modify the WannaCry Decryptor. Staff said they would continue to monitor and update their systems as a precaution. "Although there has been a significant amount of interest in the media and inescapable coverage of the outbreak, many systems will still be lacking the MS17-010 patch required to mitigate the threat". It is the most high-profile cyber-attack.

The Inquirer reported that in May 2015, the United Kingdom government - whose health services were affected by WannaCry - would not renew its Windows XP support agreement with Microsoft.

In India, the attack affected Andhra Pradesh Police, four manufacturing companies, two retailers, to banks, the operations of a multinational corporations and the Chennai automation facility.

Nearly all the corporations and organisations are upgrading their firewalls. They need to take a different approach and adhere in cyber space to the same rules applied to weapons in the physical world.

Infected systems will receive a display message by the attackers on how to escape this ransomware by offering to pay the ransom demand.

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