Cyberattack havoc could grow as work week begins

The'Wannacry ransomware attack

WannaCry reportedly used an infection vector developed by the US National Security Agency.

Microsoft distributed the patch two months ago, which could have forestalled much of the attack, but in many organizations it was likely lost among the blizzard of updates and patches that large corporations and governments strain to manage. Dharmais Hospital and Harapan Kita Hospital in Jakarta, 16 plus hospitals in the United Kingdom were forced to stop work.

"We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the United States military intelligence organisation National Security Agency (NSA) has affected customers around the world", Smith wrote.

As many as 200,000 PCs were infected over a three-day period last week, Forbes reports, which were perpetrated using exploits by the NSA that were leaked by a group called Shadow Brokers.

In a post on Microsoft's blog, Smith says: "An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the USA military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen".

Microsoft legal chief Brad Smith says governments should share software vulnerabilities with vendors instead of keeping them secret.

Mark Mager, senior researcher at security firm Endgame, said it's the most prevalent and effective example of ransomware worming through networks around the world.

It said Sunday that a similar cyberattack could also recur, though it did not have "specific evidence" of this.

The phenomenon of companies failing to update their systems has been a persistent security problem for years.

According to the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY), it has activated the mechanism by instructing CERT-IN (Computer Emergency Response Team) to gather "all the information of the reported ransomware". Indonesia's Minister of Communication and Informatics, Rudiantara says that Ransomware is exclusive to old versions of Windows. Dozens of countries were hit with a huge cyberextortion.

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The companies and government agencies targeted were diverse.

It comes amid concerns NHS networks were left vulnerable because they were still using outdated Windows XP software.

Europol's Wainwright said few banks in Europe had been affected, having learned through the "painful experience of being the number one target of cyber crime" the value of having the latest cyber security in place.

It is believed to be the biggest online extortion recorded.

Railway stations, mail delivery, gas stations, hospitals, office buildings, shopping malls and government services also were affected, China's Xinhua News Agency said, citing the Threat Intelligence Center of Qihoo 360, an internet security services company.

(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein). A screenshot of the warning screen from a purported ransomware attack, as captured by a computer user in Taiwan, is seen on laptop in Beijing, Saturday, May 13, 2017.

His concerns were echoed by James Clapper, former director of national intelligence under President Barack Obama.

When the National Security Agency lost control of the software behind the WannaCry cyberattack, it was like "the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen", Microsoft President Brad Smith says, in a message about the malicious software that has created havoc on computer networks in more than 150 countries since Friday. He said the main challenge was the fast-spreading capabilities of the malware, but added that, so far, not many people have paid the ransoms that the virus demands.

Europol provides free decryption downloads for most ransomware already detected, though not yet for this particular attack.

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