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Microsoft Ransomware Patch: Installing Updates Can Stop Cyberattack

19 May 2017

The virus swept computers running on Microsoft Windows Operating System, especially those not now supported such as Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003. The attack was so overarching that it even affected notably older iterations like Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, forcing the company to release updates to address now-obvious vulnerabilities.

Some of the biggest disruption was caused by attacks on the United Kingdom health system, which saw hospitals and clinics forced to turn away patients after losing access to computers. "We are implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible".

Over the weekend, the Wannacry ransomware attack, which first surfaced for most countries on Friday, became vastly worse.

The ransomware outbreak raises questions about the balance between the collection of security vulnerabilities by the intelligence services for spying purposes and their duty to inform software companies so they can issue patches to protect against their exploitation by cyber criminals.

Banks in Karnataka remained unaffected by the ransomware+'WannaCry' as they strictly adhered to advisory issued by the Union ministry of electronics and information technology and installed latest patch of anti-virus into their computer systems. In 2016, thousands of computers in 42 separate NHS trusts in England were reported to be still running on Windows XP. These operating systems are well past their support cycles and had not received security patches for some time.

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"We are closely monitoring the situation and have instructed the local IT teams of our bank to keep a watch on the systems in branches", a banker with the State Bank of India told ET.

"Ransomware spreads easily when it encounters unpatched or outdated software", US-CERT explained. However, officials said that those who have yet to apply the updates are at risk and should "immediately deploy Microsoft Security Bulletin MS17-010".

The perpetrators of the attack are still not known.

"One such incident pertains to 18 computers of Andhra Pradesh Police. and apart from that, there are five other cases. one of them in Kerala where some of the panchayat computers were affected", Sundararajan said.

The number of infections has fallen dramatically since Friday's peak when more than 9000 computers were being hit per hour.

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Not everyone has taken ransomware seriously enough, and that includes organizations and users that need to defend against ransomware; companies that develop the software platforms and can create better protections against ransomware; and governments, which prefer to hoard vulnerabilities instead of aiding firms in fixing the flaws in their software.

While WannaCry was very damaging to the healthcare industry, it also serves as a wakeup call to maintaining strong cyber hygiene. If Microsoft is serious about protecting all of its users, then such technology needs to be available not just to enterprise customers, but also to regular consumers.

"The growth rate of infected institutions on Monday has slowed significantly compared to the previous two days", said Chinese Internet security company Qihoo 360.

Updates are an important part of cybersecurity. This will make it much easier to spot potentially malicious files.

Australian officials said so far only three small-to-medium sized businesses had reported being locked out of their systems.

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