Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Cyber chaos may grow at workweek's start

Francis Olson | 16 May, 2017, 16:58

If similar vulnerabilities are found in PCs running Windows 10, 8 and 7, these systems can also be infected by the ransomware virus-this can happen if the PC doesn't have the patch released in March installed.

U.S. package delivery giant FedEx, European vehicle factories, Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, Britain's health service and Germany's Deutsche Bahn rail network were among those hit.

Researchers who helped prevent the spread of the malware and cybersecurity firms worked around the clock during the weekend to monitor the situation and install a software patch to block the worm from infecting more computers in corporations across the U.S., Europe and Asia.

"We've never seen anything like this", the head of the European Union's policing agency told Britain's ITV television, calling its reach "unprecedented".

"We weren't able to ingest the threat vector, which was probably an email that contained this malicious code in it, or a link to malicious code, and as a effect we were probably better protected than our European cousins".

There are apprehensions that a second wave of the attack may arrive Monday as employees return and switch on affected computers.

"It was early morning Saturday for us, and that meant the bulk of us weren't at our keyboards", the prime minister's cyber security adviser Alastair MacGibbon said.

Hackers reportedly used a tool known as Eternal Blue and a malicious software called WannaCry to lock users' computers and to demand a payment for the decryption.

Bitcoin, the world's most-used virtual currency, allows anonymous transactions via heavily encrypted codes.

However, Wainwright said Europol was working on the basis that the cyber-attack was carried out by criminals rather than terrorists, but noted that "remarkably few" payments had been made so far.

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"This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem", he said.

But Kaspersky said it wasn't clear cut and could be worked around by the culprits.

Brad Smith, who is Microsoft's chief legal officer, said Sunday in a blog post that his company, its customers and the government all share the blame.

The computing giant said software vulnerabilities hoarded by governments have caused "widespread damage". "An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the USA military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen".

It is the largest ransomware attack observed in history.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: "Friday's attack has highlighted the need for everyone to have appropriate and robust measures in place to protect against cyber-attacks which could strike any IT system at any time". Germany's national railway says that it was among the organizations affected by the global cyberattack but there was no impact on train services.

Seven hospital trusts are still experiencing serious problems, among them St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, York Teaching Hospital NHS Trust and the University Hospitals of North Midlands Trust.

French carmaker Renault was forced to stop production at sites in France, Slovenia and Romania, while FedEx said it was "implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible".

About a fifth of NHS trusts - the regional bodies that run hospitals and clinics - were hit by the attack on Friday, leading to thousands of canceled appointments and operations. "Which we will", she said.

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