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United States should take some of blame for massive cyberattack, Chinese media says

19 May 2017

In what one of the most significant cyberattacks ever recorded, computer systems from the Russia, Brazil and the USA were hit beginning Friday by malicious software that exploited a vulnerability in Microsoft's Windows operating system. They thought that they did everything that they could to defend their systems, but wannacry disabled many institutions so fast that in the countries most affected, many hospitals were unable to function even though their IT systems are usually the best when it comes to security.

While earlier this week the company's president and chief legal officer Brad Smith had reportedly confirmed that the attack had used elements stolen from the NSA, the U.S. government has not given any direct comments in the matter till date. Estimates of the economic impact are still being tabulated, but they could easily run into the tens of billions of dollars.

The Telegraph reports that although it was initially expected that the widespread attack originated from phishing emails, this has since been disputed by security experts looking into the matter. This will make it much easier to spot potentially malicious files.

Organizations ranging from Sony Pictures to NASA in recent years have fallen prey to similar cyberattacks, with the latter hit by CryptoLocker malware in 2013. But if you're just hearing about this attack - or waking up to an unresponsive computer of your own - here's what you need to understand about what law enforcement officials have called the biggest such attack in history. Despite this victory, he has warned that, once the attackers find out, they will inevitably modify the malware and create a new version.

What is unusual about this ransomware attempt is its scope, its immediacy, and its multi-pronged nature. Even for larger companies with adequate IT resources, such updates can often take months to fully deploy. The hacking tool at work was originally developed by the U.S. National Security Agency, before it leaked online earlier this year. It is a telling observation that governments and businesses running obsolete systems were the targets of the WannaCry ransomware. "Yet, when a serious vulnerability is discovered in software, many companies respond slowly or say it's not their problem".

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Still, there are no guarantees that a victim actually will receive a decryptor key after paying a ransom to cyberthieves, he acknowledged, making the decision to pay a ransom a hard call. The perpetrators of the attacks demanded a Bitcoin payment of $300 be deposited in exchange for unlocking that data. We must take personal responsibility for our privilege to have a global connection at our fingertips, and at the same time be careful when opening email attachments. "Patch your systems now!"

The University of Calgary was hit with one of the largest acknowledged ransomware attacks in Canada's history in May of previous year.

The use of four preassigned bitcoin addresses makes it almost impossible for the attackers to figure out exactly when a victim pays, he said. Once downloaded and activated, WannaCry seems to have been able to spread to other machines with the same vulnerability. Unfortunately, however, a new variant of the program is already in the wild.

How to know if your computer is infected with WannaCry?

For all the worldwide chaos they have caused, the ransomware attack's perpetrators have reportedly made little more than less than $70,000, according to Tom Bossert, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. Most obvious is that a high-profile ransomware victim rarely is as open and transparent about its handling of such a cyberattack.

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It seems that the victims were those who were running outdated operating systems or had forgotten to patch their systems with the available Windows updates. (These are the most important patches that the company recommends users install immediately.) That could saddle the company with the XP albatross for many years past when it hoped to be free from having to maintain the software.

Use the latest Operating System.

With proactive security measures in place, threats like the recent ransomware attacks will not leave owners and managers scrambling to recover vital business data held hostage. "However, according to experts at Norton, in 2016 only 47 percent of victims who paid ransoms recovered their data".

Permit automatic Windows updates if you do not want to worry about keeping your computer updated. "Ransomware is painful, but you can restore operations relatively quickly".

CMIT Solutions delivers this kind of protection to many of our clients.

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