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Microsoft criticizes government creation of hacking tools used in global cyber-attack
20 May 2017, 02:44 | Megan Pierce
The ransomware, also called WannaCrypt, was first noticed on Friday, and has affected at least 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries, including some in hospitals, locking them until their owners pay a Bitcoin ransom to the attackers.
It was unclear Sunday whether Microsoft was delivering the new Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003 patches via the standard Windows Update maintenance service, or if users were required to manually download the appropriate fixes from the Update Catalog. We've patched the ones that have been infected.
To recap, on Friday many NHS hospitals across the United Kingdom were forced to shut down IT systems and telephones lines, and in some cases cancel operations and send patients home, after being struck by the ransomware attack, later identified to be a variant of Wanna Decryptor/WannaCry/WCry. However, with the weekend coming to a close, the full extent of the inflicted damage may become apparent in just a few hours.
"The operating systems on our computers and software downloads are managed centrally so that regular users can not download executable files from the internet without administrative rights", he said in an email.
NHS Digital added that the attack was "not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organisations from across a range of sectors".
"At the moment we are in the face of an escalating threat, the numbers are going up, I am anxious about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn their machines on Monday morning". Many of those will be businesses including large corporations..
The agency and its partners in the global security community are now in a "sort of cat-and-mouse" competition with hackers, as variants of the software that foil previous solutions emerge, the official says. The ransomware exploits older versions of Microsoft's operating system software, such as Windows XP.
Michael Mitchell, spokesman for Oreo cookie maker Mondelez International, said the company is not aware of any incidents from the attack, though it did alert employees. The NHS has said hospitals have had to cancel some outpatient appointments because of the attack.
The NCA is leading the criminal investigation into the attack, but for operational reasons we can not give a running commentary.
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Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at the Helsinki-based cybersecurity company F-Secure, said ransomware attacks like WannaCry are "not going to be the norm". "It will persist for some time because there are thousands of vulnerable internet-connected systems", according to a Splunk spokesperson.
In what one of the most significant cyberattacks ever recorded, computer systems from the U.K.to Russia, Brazil and the USA were hit beginning Friday by malicious software that exploited a vulnerability in Microsoft's Windows operating system.
On Friday, May 12, the world was hit by one of the biggest cyberattacks in recent history.
South Korea's presidential Blue House office said nine cases of ransomware were found in the country, but did not provide details on where the cyber attacks were discovered. FedEx said it was experiencing interference, the Associated Press reported.
French automaker Renault and its partner, Nissan, say their plants were hit by the attack, NBC reports.
Alex Abdo, a staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said Microsoft and other software companies have strategically settled lawsuits that could lead to court rulings weakening their licensing agreements.
Russias Interior Ministry, with oversight of the police forces, said about 1,000 computers were infected, which it described as less than 1 percent of the total, according to its website.
Asked if the government had ignored warnings over the NHS being at risk from cyber attack, Prime Minister Theresa May told Sky News: "No". Ransomware is traditionally their topic, he said.
After all, security vendors are still seeing successful exploitation attempts today for MS08-067, the Windows vulnerability that allowed the Conficker computer worm to spread nine years ago.
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