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Why WannaCry Ransomware Took Down So Many Businesses

19 May 2017, 10:48 | Megan Pierce

Why WannaCry Ransomware Took Down So Many Businesses

Ransomware

Now, photos and documents are inaccessible, and there is an urgent red-hued message demanding payment in order to restore your files.

Europe's police agency Europol says a global cyberattack has affected at least 100,000 organizations in 150 countries, with data networks infected by malware that locks computer files unless a ransom is paid. The computers would operate normally, but the miner would also run in the background.

WannaCrypt is still out there, but the attack was partially paused on Friday by a 22-year-old security researcher in the south of Britain - and he did it with $10.69, by accident.

"It's not over", McConnell said.

There are other types of ransomware out there.

In any case, having a backup of your important data is extremely important because you never know when disaster may strike. Businesses should determine the best time to apply these security updates to office computers without interrupting productivity, he added.

This renders the files inaccessible.

It all depends on what sort of data has been encrypted.

"They're holding your stuff ransom", Staats said.

The exploitation of EternalBlue, suspected to have been developed using a hacking method leaked from US National Security Agency, allows the malware to spread through file-sharing protocols set up across the internal networks of organisations, many of which criss-cross the globe, according to Financial Times. It spread to so many computers so rapidly by using an exploit - software capable of burrowing unseen into Windows computer operating systems.

Microsoft is to be lauded for its swift action in coming up with a patch for the older OSes, and it is to be hoped that this experience will provoke a rethink about support levels for what it may see as dinosaurs, but in practical terms are still far from extinct.

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Since increasing numbers of systems running older versions of Windows were affected, Microsoft had made a decision to push an emergency patch for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, urging users to deploy the patch as soon as possible to limit the impact of WannaCry.

Avoid clicking on suspicious emails: Many ransomware attacks are initiated through an infected link in or attached to an email.

"They don't seem to be vulnerable to that", Staats said.

There are the companies, universities, hospitals and other organizations that didn't install Microsoft's fixes and take other precautions, such as backing up data.

Has it affected anyone in the Illinois Valley?

"For Microsoft to say that governments should stop developing exploits to Microsoft products is naive", said Brian Lord, a managing director at PGI Cyber and former deputy director at the Government Communications Headquarters, one of the U.K.'s intelligence agencies.

Overseas, WannaCry heavily impacted hospitals and caused some medical centers in the United Kingdom to temporarily shutdown.

"We keep our machines pretty well patched", she said. "I was quickly able to get a sample of the malware with the help of Kafeine, a good friend and fellow researcher".

There's a code among whitehat hackers and cybersecurity experts alike, whether they're professionals on Google's Project Zero team or just a guy with some know-how working out of his basement: when you discover a bug, you contact the software developer and give them a chance to make it right.

"Keeping critical updates automatic ensures you get the patches as soon as they're available", Staats said. While department heads and IT administrators deserve some of the blame, ultimately, elected officials who refuse to allocate money for necessary upgrades are culpable.



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