Friday, 18 August, 2017

Beware new ransomware Wannacry

Kayla Schwartz | 19 May, 2017, 15:48

Europol said a special task force at its European Cybercrime Centre was "specially created to assist in such investigations and will play an important role in supporting the investigation".

Microsoft took aim at the USA government for "stockpiling" software code that was used by unknown hackers to launch the attacks.

Once your files are encrypted, your options are limited.

However, there is no clarity yet on whether access is restored upon payment of the amount demanded.

And all this may be just a taste of what's coming, a leading cyber security expert warned.

Microsoft, however, released a patch against the vulnerability on March 14, which could indicate that the company was notified by the USA intelligence agency that their tools using that particular backdoor had been compromised.

Experts and officials offered differing estimates of the scope of the attacks, but all agreed it was huge.

Russia's Interior Ministry released a statement Friday acknowledging a ransomware attack on its computers, adding that less than 1 percent of computers were affected, and that the virus was now "localized" and being destroyed.

Because Windows Server 2003 or older, and Windows XP or older on the desktop, have been discontinued by Microsoft and are unsupported, these systems are particularly vulnerable.

French police said there were "more than 75,000 victims" around the globe, but cautioned that the number could increase "significantly".

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"Affected machines have six hours to pay up and every few hours the ransom goes up", said Kurt Baumgartner, the principal security researcher at security firm Kaspersky Lab. Experts say it will be hard for them to replicate the conditions that allowed the so-called WannaCry ransomware to proliferate across the globe.

Microsoft said the situation was "painful" and that it was taking "all possible actions to protect our customers".

Microsoft was quick to change its policy, announcing free security patches to fix this vulnerability in the older Windows systems still used by millions of individuals and smaller businesses.

It was too early to say who was behind the onslaught, which struck 100,000 organizations, and what their motivation was, aside from the obvious demand for money. The temporary halt in production was a "preventative step", Renault said, giving no details on how badly the plant was affected by the malware. Russian Federation was the country worst affected, with computers at the nation's interior ministry getting targeted. The country's banking system was also attacked, although no problems were detected, as was the railway system. Universities in Greece and Italy also were hit.

Other Windows systems had also been affected and just 4.7% of NHS systems were still running XP, he said.

An independent research by Quick Heal Technologies, a cyber-security firm, shows that about 48,000 computers were attacked by the ransomware WannaCry, with most incidents in West Bengal. While a United Kingdom security researcher managed to stop the spread of the virus, hackers have issued new versions that cybersecurity organizations are trying to counter and stamp out. "Now I should probably sleep". The tools were made public by a hacking group called the Shadow Brokers.

The British government denied allegations that lax cybersecurity in the financially stretched, state-funded health service had helped the attack spread.

G7 finance ministers meeting in Italy vowed to unite against cyber crime, as it represented a growing threat to their economies and should be tackled as a priority.

Britain's National Health Service is a source of pride for many Britons but faces substantial budget issues and has had previous problems with its huge IT system.

Tom Bossert, a homeland security adviser to President Donald Trump, said "criminals" were responsible, not the USA government. And while other attackers might use the same flaw, such attacks will be steadily less successful as organizations patch it.

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