Friday, 14 December, 2018

Ransomware attack 'like having a Tomahawk missile stolen', says Microsoft boss

Kayla Schwartz | 16 May, 2017, 08:39

The NSA and White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the Microsoft statement.

Computing giant Microsoft said the attack should be treated around the world as a "wake-up call", saying software vulnerabilities hoarded by governments have caused "widespread damage".

Australia, according to the Prime Minister's special adviser on cyber security, Alastair MacGibbon, has missed the worst of the "WannaCry" virus - a massive global cyber "ransom" attack affecting 150 countries and hundreds of thousands of users - but he is expecting more Australian victims to turn up on Monday.

New versions of the worm are expected, the experts said, and the extent - and economic cost - of the damage from Friday's attack were unclear.

Senior US security officials held another meeting in the White House Situation Room on Saturday, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the NSA were working to help mitigate damage and identify the perpetrators of the massive cyber attack, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The investigations into the attack were in the early stages, however, and attribution for cyberattacks is notoriously hard.

More than 200,000 victims in around 150 countries have been infected by the ransomware which originated in the United Kingdom and Spain on Friday before spreading globally.

Infected computers appear to largely be out-of-date devices that organisations deemed not worth the price of upgrading or, in some cases, machines involved in manufacturing or hospital functions that proved too hard to patch without possibly disrupting crucial operations, security experts said.

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Technical staff restored data and replaced security patches over the weekend at trusts across the country, Mr Wallace said.

Microsoft said it had released a Windows security update in March to tackle the problem involved in the latest attack, but many users were yet to run it.

Europol, the pan-European Union crime-fighting agency, said the threat was escalating and predicted the number of "ransomware" victims was likely to grow across the private and public sectors as people returned to work on Monday.

The NSA keeps a chest of cyberweapons to itself so it can hit targets, but Microsoft has long argued that this is risky.

He told BBC Breakfast the Government had put £1.2 billion into combating cyber attacks during the last strategic defence and security review, including a £50 million pot to support NHS IT networks.

"The very nature of this particular malware, this sort of ransomware attack, is very potent because unlike more routine ones this one has used a sort of worm to exploit the operating system and bolted on a ransomware so that it spread incredibly quickly in hours not weeks or days", Wallace said. The hospital said it expected big queues on Monday when about 500 people were due to register.

Researchers remained on high alert for new variants that could lead to a fresh wave of infections. reported the minister told reporters in Cairns that the challenge was that there were various instances of ransomware in Australia every week and authorities were now seeking to confirm whether these are the same thing that hit the United Kingdom.


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NHS Trusts in Lancashire cancel and postpone appointments after cyber attack Microsoft released patches last month and on Friday to fix a vulnerability that allowed the worm to spread across networks. The bureau had raised its cyber security of critical infrastructure, government departments and key businesses, it added.

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