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NSA warned Microsoft about vulnerability connected to 'Wanna Cry'

19 May 2017

It should be noted that Windows XP is an outdated version of Microsoft's Windows operating system, which first launched in 2001.

It also expressed fear that figure of affected computers and countries is likely to grow with time especially "as people use their computers if their IT has not been updated and their security systems patched over the weekend". Such a leak was also exploited and rolled out in the form of the WannaCry ransomware attack, the consequences of which we have all seen in the news. Yet ransom payments now total only around US$82,000.

Once it's in, WannaCry ransomware begins its insidious work by anonymizing communications with the attacker's servers (hiding their names and locations). Cybersecurity professionals around the world are discovering that the WannaCry ransomware indiscriminately targets all industries everywhere. CryptoWall made its author US$325m with over 406,000 attempted infections. Enforcing simple tasks such as locking workstations, securing laptops, using strong passwords and alerting employees about phishing scams and other attacks can help prevent the spread of malware through an organization or network.

It comes as China prepares to enforce a wide-reaching cyber security law that United States business groups say will threaten the operations of foreign firms in China with strict local data storage laws and stringent surveillance requirements.

Ransomware is nearly the ideal IT crime.

Lawrence Abrams, a New York-based blogger who runs BleepingComputer.com, says many organizations don't install security upgrades because they're anxious about triggering bugs, or they can't afford the downtime.

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"They're holding your stuff ransom", Staats said.

It is simple, but highly effective.

The biggest question is whether businesses should pay or not. Microsoft was under no legal obligation to do this, mind you, since it no longer supports Windows XP - after having extended its product lifecycle several times in the past.

However, if you do pay, you're only fueling the fire.

Now, photos and documents are inaccessible, and there is an urgent red-hued message demanding payment in order to restore your files.

"It goes through your documents, your pictures, your important stuff, and it's encrypting it".

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Success rate for ransomware.

The hacked computers would mine the digital currency Monero.

Experts cautioned, however, that the criminals who pushed the ransomware to the world might be able to disable the "kill" switch in future versions of their malware.

This is a great worry for many companies. "They're trying to discourage people from using Windows XP so they're jacking up the cost", said Avivah Litan, an analyst at Gartner.

Upon gaining entry to Windows-based machines, the attack utilized the NSA's DoublePulsar to spawn a thread within a legitimate system process, allowing it to remain undetected by most detection systems that are unable to collect activities at the thread level.

The WannaCry ransomware has septic over 350,000 computers across the globe in last few days.

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