Friday, 28 July, 2017

Microsoft President Decries Practice of Weaponizing Software Flaws

Kayla Schwartz | 20 May, 2017, 01:30

Unlikely from the past, nowadays, free software operating systems (GNU/Linux ) are more user-friendly and easy to use.

This story doesn't feel too surprising.

The attack has effected governments, hospitals and corporations, especially those running outdated computer systems.

This includes whitelisting certain websites and software so only approved programs can run on a computer, or disabling administrative privileges on a company's machines so that only the IT department can download programs. But is the public sector really any worse than the private sector at keeping its IT security up to date and avoiding cybercrime? On Friday, May 12 the software giant had issued an update to Windows Defender, enabling the anti-malware product, which ships with Windows, to detect and block the ransomware. However, Microsoft stopped routinely updating XP in 2014, and those still using it have to pay for custom support to receive any further patches.

Update the security patch MS17-010 released by Microsoft at the earliest.

"Really the lesson here is that for individuals, at least, if they didn't turn off the automatic update feature - so a Windows update in this case - they would've gotten the patch and they'd be fine", said Troy Hunt, a security trainer and a Microsoft regional director. This is exactly what happened within the NHS.

"All our systems are updated as required".

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By now everyone knows that the world is reeling under a Ransomware virus attack threat called WannaCry. But these two agendas, of militarism, absolute secrecy, and software profit maximization create an environment that allows something like WannaCry to stomp all over the globe, hobbling hospitals and train stations in its wake.

Wu Yunkun, president of 360 Business Security Group, told chinadaily.com.cn to curb the virus's spread, the company had provided eight versions of warning notices, seven fix guides and six fix tools to their government and enterprises customers as of Monday morning.

In Asia, where many offices closed before the WannaCry ransomware struck on Friday, the attack has been less severe than expected. The Finnish company also said that Russian Federation and China were affected the most, and it could be due to the rampant use of pirated software in those countries.

Nemeroff cited how 85 percent of companies haven't yet upgraded to the latest Windows 10 operating system, according to Credit Suisse's corporate survey. His firm gets three to four malware attack related requests from companies every week, he said. In the United Kingdom, the National Cyber Security Centre alone has a £1.9 billion investment.

"Since March, the government has been on high alert". The problem is that once those vulnerabilities become public, they can be used by others. There are government-backed initiatives to help small companies with cybersecurity, such as the UK's Cyber Essentials, but these don't have the scale to reach everyone or even identify and help those most in need. "We don't have a large number of victims right now, and we, for the most part, are not seeing significant operational impacts for those who have been victimized". He noted there was no indication the cyber attack had resulted in widespread disclosure of personal data. Getting people to understand how is still a serious challenge. Most often the malicious software encrypts important files, making them unreadable, and often locks the computer.

Simon Parkinson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

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