Microsoft reportedly held back WannaCry patch for older Windows versions
Microsoft reportedly held back WannaCry patch for older Windows versions
19 May, 2017, 17:09
Ransomware, according to the website NoMoreRansom.org, is malware that "locks your computer and mobile devices or encrypts your electronic files". With data decryption usually priced in the hundreds of dollars, many organizations find it easier to pay and move on; the leading cybersecurity firm Trend Micro recently researched United Kingdom organizations who have received ransomware in the past two years and found that almost two-thirds of those it surveyed paid the ransom. "However, this is not guaranteed and you should never pay!"
Following the flurry of reports of the attack, the chief of global and legal affairs at Iran's Cyber Police warned that the "ransomware", which has affected countless computer systems worldwide, has done the same to some systems inside the country.
According to numerous reports, WannaCry exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was purportedly identified by the U.S. National Security Agency for its own intelligence-gathering purposes. The government has not publicly acknowledged that the NSA developed the tool.
The "WannaCry" ransomware swiftly spread across 200,000 computers in 150 countries, causing Microsoft to issue an emergency patch for those still running outdated Windows XP systems.
The Russian central bank confirmed there were some isolated cases but they were dealt with quickly and recommendations to update any Windows software were twice issued to all banks in the wake of the attacks.
Seeking to head off further criticism in the wake of the WannaCry outbreak, the US software giant last weekend released a free patch for Windows XP and other older Windows versions that it previously only offered to paying customers.
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It is believed that Microsoft rolled out the firmware only to the Windows 10 series, as the company had stopped software support for Windows Vista version last month.
WannaCry's worm-like capacity to infect other computers on the same network with no human intervention appear tailored to Windows 7, said Paul Pratley, head of investigations & incident response at United Kingdom consulting firm MWR InfoSecurity.
The No More Ransom site offers several tips for dealing with - or potentially dealing with - ransomware.
Enable the "Show file extensions" option in the Windows settings on your computer.
"What really makes the magnitude of this attack so much greater than any other is that the intent has changed from information stealing to business disruption", said Samil Neino, 32, chief executive of Los Angeles-based Kryptos Logic.
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The British government cancelled a nationwide NHS support contract with Microsoft after a year, leaving upgrades to local trusts. But nothing can be said for sure regarding the attacker's intentions, they can choose to target smartphones at any time too.
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IT providers and security firms are encouraging companies and users to make sure they install the official patch from Microsoft . At the same time, Microsoft's current reputation with buggy updates isn't exactly helping the situation.
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The bug prevented staff from accessing computer systems and warned that files would be deleted unless money was paid. The attack on Friday saw ambulances diverted and operations cancelled up and down the country.