WannaCry ransonmware attack slows globally; Microsoft says cybersecurity is a shared responsibility

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It comes after more than 200,000 victims in around 150 countries were infected by the ransomware which originated in the United Kingdom and Spain on Friday before spreading around the world.

No. It appears to only affect computers powered by Microsoft Windows.

The indiscriminate attack began Friday and struck banks, hospitals and government agencies, exploiting known vulnerabilities in older Microsoft computer operating systems.

Security company Symantec says that ransomware attacks alone jumped by more than one-third to over 483,800 incidents in 2016. Smith compared the leak of NSA exploits to the theft of missiles from the American military, pointing to the WikiLeaks dump of Central Intelligence Agency hacking tools.

Smith then likened the severity of the scenario to the "U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen".

Smith said in a company blog post that governments should alert vendors to software vulnerabilities instead of hoarding them and keeping them secret. The hack uses WannaCry ransomware software to encrypt computer files and demands the owner pay to have the computer released. He said the virus attack that crippled computers worldwide proves that "stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments" is a major problem.

"Repeatedly, exploits in the hands of governments have leaked into the public domain and caused widespread damage", Mr. Smith wrote.

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Windows maker Microsoft says ransomware can infect your PC by visiting unsafe, suspicious or fake websites; by opening emails and attachments from people you don't know or didn't expect; or by clicking on malicious links in emails and social media.

However, in response, Microsoft states it has developed and released a special update for Windows XP although this particular version is no longer serviced by the tech giant. If that ransom isn't paid in 72 hours, the price could double.

On Friday, a security researcher inadvertently created a "kill switch" to help stop the spread of this ransomware. But individuals with personal computers running Windows operating systems should also take precautions.

While the shockwaves from WannaCry have been felt around the globe, Crowley says there's an interesting twist: Authorities can track just how much money the cyber-attackers have stolen.

The spread ended when a MI researcher discovered a kill switch in the malware and shared the information with a British counterpart who had stopped the attack by registering a domain name. "This is an emerging pattern in 2017 ... now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world".

He pointed out, "There is simply no way for customers to protect themselves against threats unless they update their systems" given the fact that cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated.

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