In a matter of minutes, your files are our of reach. "All the data in the laptop was encrypted and there were no confidential files", he said. Should they want to get their data back, users are asked to pay up large sums of money to get a decryption key.
Payment in crypto-currency bitcoin helps hackers cover their tracks.
There has been increasing fear that Android devices might also be affected by the WannaCry ransomware which is spreading like wildfire but luckily, for now, the malware is only hitting systems on a server and are targeted towards organisations which are more likely to pay than individuals. Microsoft talking about WannaCry ransomware attack points at government's carelessness.
But the patches won't do any good for machines that have already been hit.
But Scott Vernick, a data security lawyer at Fox Rothschild that represents companies, said he was skeptical that WannaCry would produce a flood of consumer lawsuits.
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"There is a lack of transparency in India, in-spite of a mandatory requirement for banks and listed companies to disclose cyber-attack, however, very few banks and companies do that", Tushar Ajinkya, Partner, DSK Legal, told ET.
Jonathan Zittrain, a professor specializing in internet law at Harvard Law School, said courts have frequently dismissed lawsuits against the agency on the grounds they might result in the disclosure of top secret information.
Similarly, two big telecom companies, Telefónica (TEF) of Spain and Megafon of Russian Federation, were also hit, as was Japanese carmaker Nissan (NSANF) in the United Kingdom. How did it spread so fast?
WannaCry rightly scared the general public, but the ransomware shows signs of being produced by amateurs and thus is easily combatted - a 22-year-old discovered a "kill switch" in the program, an easy solution to the growing problem. India needs to look at some more holistic perspective with how to deal with cyber security.
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.
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Who perpetrated this wave of attacks remains unknown.
They exploited a ideal storm of factors - the Windows hole, the ability to get ransom paid in digital currency, poor security practices - but it's unclear if the payoff, at least so far, was worth the trouble.
Europol said a special task force at its European Cybercrime Centre was "specially created to assist in such investigations and will play an important role in supporting the investigation". "But we have been updating our whole security measures since March itself, software has been installed", Union Minister of Information and Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Jonathan Cran, vice president of product at Bugcrowd, said Microsoft may have been "following standard policy in a non-standard situation [by] only releasing out-of-band patches for exploitation in the wild".
"We don't expect this to be a sophisticated group", said Wellsmore.
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