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Everything you need to know about the 'WannaCrypt' ransomware attack

19 May 2017

In India, more than "more than 100 systems of the Andhra Pradesh police department" were affected over the weekend, NDTV reports.

It was a stress-filled weekend for many IT workers this past weekend as the WannaCry ransomware attack spread, crippling Windows systems worldwide.

Sean Pike, program VP in the security products group at IDC, a tech industry research provider, pointed that everyone has been a bit numb to attacks because it is something they hear so much about now and Microsoft benefits from that.

The communication and information ministry said the malware locked patient files on computers at two hospitals in the capital Jakarta.

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The cyber experts have warned of a huge risk in near future as most institutions and individuals in Bangladesh use pirated software. The UK's National Health Service (NHS) was among the hardest hit and it has been reported that the IT systems of about 40 NHS organizations have been affected by this ransomware attack. WannaCry spreads through a leaked NSA (National Security Agency) exploit which targets the erstwhile versions of the Microsoft Windows OS, like the includes Windows XP, 7, and Server 2008.

However, MalwareTech added, the kill switch that was activated doesn't prevent the actors responsible for the ransomware from removing the domain check in their code and re-launching an attack, "so it's incredibly important that any unpatched systems are patched as quickly as possible". Currently, the perpetrators behind the attack are not known.

Ransomware attacks do not necessarily involve unauthorized acquisition or access to the data by the attacker, but they may nonetheless warrant consideration for legal notifications to law enforcement and regulators, or notice to business partners or customers as may be required under contract. "Yet, when a serious vulnerability is discovered in software, many companies respond slowly or say it's not their problem". The first victims who did not pay the $300 ransom are now facing a demand of $600. By Monday, the company said it had resumed "normal operations".

Businesses and the public are supposed to constantly update their computers with the latest patches and software updates. A recent Apple software update, for example, caused some iPad Pros to cease functioning. Most ATMs were running fine, there could be some which may not have updated Microsoft's Windows operating system, sources said.

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But the company's president insisted Microsoft and its team of security experts can't protect everyone without some participation from users as well. If you don't want to install the update for your PC, cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab has a step-by-step guide to secure computer. Shutting down your system for a few minutes will be worth it, if it enables you to avoid this. "They're just a huge organisation which has had insufficient investment in computer security over the years".

"It would be a relatively simple matter to alter the code of the malware to circumvent the temporary solution that has been found to stop the current attack", he said.

As news continues to spread of WannaCry, the vicious strain of malware that has already attacked 200,000 computers in over 150 countries since Friday, Internet users are scrambling to educate themselves on their new cyber enemy.

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There have been five to six complaints across the country and none were from Bengaluru. "Rest of them were just query calls". The encryption is very strong: without the decryption key or a recent uninfected backup, the data is gone forever.