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Microsoft reportedly held back WannaCry patch for older Windows versions

19 May 2017

FedEx, one of the world's foremost worldwide shippers, was struck at the same time as telecommunications giants like Spain's Telefónica and Russia's MegaFon, and many more global behemoths will surely admit to ransomware infections in the days and weeks ahead. As long as someone is not prepared, the attacks will continue.

Recently, a piece of malware-the WannaCry virus-exploded on the scene with unprecedented speed and scale. Reports suggest hundreds of thousands of computers were affected across the globe with hotspots in the UK, Russia, Spain and the US. Failure to pay the ransom would result in the destruction of the data. Our own National Security Agency discovered that vulnerability and weaponized it, kind of like turning a vitamin-deficient food into a deadly poison. Microsoft, which makes Windows, released a patch for the WannaCry vulnerability eight weeks ago, said Mr Chris Wysopal, the chief technology officer of Veracode, an application security company.

But the use of ransomware to lockdown user data and extort a payment is hardly a new occurrence. The report warned that ransomware posed one of the most significant threats facing organizations. The answer will likely take days and weeks to establish, and even then there will be uncertainties.

Contact an IT security expert.

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Agencies overseas including the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) are trying to identify the culprits behind this latest assault. The average ransom amount requested from each company has been roughly $300, payable in Bitcoin. Either way staff need to understand the dangers of improved phishing emails which will be carefully tailored and can appear nearly identical to a real message from a named colleague. Activating the domain worked as a kill switch for the malware. Was it done deliberately or an error by the perpetrator? Only government offices have come forward and have reported the matter but no business enterprise has admitted cyber breach. No federal systems were affected. If you are a CMIT Solutions client with a Marathon Managed IT Services plan, you do not need to worry about doing this, because we take care of it for you.

India can not afford to lower its guard against the global ransomware attack as the world has not seen the last of the virus yet, the head of the country's cybersecurity agency warned. In China, railways, hospitals and government offices were affected. Software updates often contain lots of patches that fix bugs and close security loopholes; regularly using Windows Update or the Software Update feature on a Mac will help insulate you from problems.

Some of those who have paid the WannaCry ransom have regained control of their computers, security researchers say.

"If customers have automatic updates enabled or have installed the update, they are protected". Hardware and software should be treated as expendable items. So that means in three years and a month, someone finds a nasty bug in that phone operating system, boom. If there are none, don't lose hope: There may be new security tools to unlock your files in the future.

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Wannacry spread so quickly in 24 hours due to the lack of proper security practices in place in organisations, and new versions of it are already online.

Here are some of the key players in the attack and what may - or may not - be their fault. Surveys indicate they are concerned-that concern should translate into action. It provides a chance to get cyber security and recovery processes to the top of the corporate agenda.

Security will be more important as cyber becomes ever more entwined in individuals' daily lives.

Ransomware WannaCry attack: Banks cautious, shut down ATMs operating on old software
Interpol thinks that more than 200,000 people in more than 150 countries were affected - and things could get worse. Some of those are people that you wouldn't necessarily expect us, or large organisations, to work with.