Cyber attack: Some ATMs remained shut on precautionary ground

Microsoft Ransomware Patch: Installing Updates Can Stop Cyberattack

The so-called "WannaCry" virus wreaked havoc around the world in recent days by primarily infecting vulnerable Windows 7 computers connected to the internet, security ratings firm BitSight told Reuters on Friday.

As if dealing with the continuing drama of the WannaCry global ransomware attack was not enough, the original group behind the leak of National Security Agency (NSA) hacking tools has announced it will release more vulnerabilities that could be exploited in the near future.

"The WannaCry ransomware attack is the largest we've ever seen", said Mike Fey, president and chief operating officer at Symantec.

By Monday, the attacks continued to spread across the world, affecting major institutions like U.K.'s National Health Service, Russia's Ministry of Interior, Chinese government agencies, Germany's Deutsche Bahn rail system, automakers Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA, PetroChina, logistics giant FedEx Corp, Bloomberg reports.

"This is an emerging pattern in 2017", he continued.

"This particular vulnerability was exposed by the WikiLeaks in March saying that the US' NSA was using this vulnerability in Windows operating systems to target individuals".

"We need governments to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits", Smith wrote. Brad Smith, Microsoft's top lawyer, criticized USA intelligence agencies for "stockpiling" software code that can be used by hackers.

The exploits that the Shadow Brokers are threatening to pass on include vulnerabilities of browsers, mobile devices and Windows 10, as well as information about compromised banks and Russian, Chinese, Iranian and North Korean nuclear missile programs.

Cyber-security firm HumanFirewall said that on account of high use of pirated Windows operating system in India, it was more susceptible to the attack.

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"All our systems are updated as required".

Mac or Linux users are at the moment safe from harm, but there remains a risk they could be infected via the intranet once a member computer is infected. The ransomware attack has affected more than 200,000 victims in 150 countries, said Rob Wainwright, head of law enforcement agency Europol. WannaCry is a ransomware that feeds on a particular Windows exploit and encrypts user data until they pay up.

The cybercriminals demanded $300 payment in bitcoin from people to be able to regain access to their files.

Matthew Hickey, a cyber-security researcher at United Kingdom -based firm Hacker House, said that once the fee is paid, the hacker must manually activate decryption so that files are released, rather than it being an automatic process.

WannaCry, widely reported as the most significant ransomware attack to date, was first detected on Friday in Britain, crippling hospitals and doctors' offices - and even causing some patients to be refused for treatment.

Smith added that the global cyberattack "demonstrates the degree to which cybersecurity has become a shared responsibility between tech companies and customers".

Microsoft distributed a "fix" for the software vulnerability two months ago, but not all computer users and networks worldwide had yet made that update and thus were highly vulnerable.

Because this attack is so contagious - it self-propagates, slithering from computer to computer without any human help - Microsoft decided it had to build a patch for that antique system too. "Otherwise they're literally fighting the problems of the present with tools from the past", he said. You need to know what version of Windows you are running to get the proper patch - an add-on piece of computer code to upgrade and improve software, in this case the Windows operating system.

Smith's statement made no mention of pirated Microsoft software, users of which can not download the security patch.

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