Microsoft chief: Cyber attack `wake-up call for governments´

Bitcoin is not the only so-called cryptocurrency but it is the only one to gain widespread acceptanceDAVID GRAY  REUTERS

This one worked because of a "perfect storm" of conditions, including a known and highly unsafe security hole in Microsoft Windows, tardy users who didn't apply Microsoft's March software fix, and malware created to spread quickly once inside university, business and government networks. According to experts, the initial spread of WannaCry came through spam, in which fake invoices, job offers, and other lures are sent out to random email addresses.

The U.K.'s National Cyber Security Centre said Sunday that there have been "no sustained new attacks" of the kind that struck Friday. "This most recent attack represents a completely unintended but disconcerting link between the two most serious forms of cybersecurity threats in the world today - nation-state action and organized criminal action".

One need not use an administrator account on their computer, you can just use a guest account with limited privileges. But the researcher's actions may have saved companies and governments millions of dollars and slowed the outbreak before computers in the US were more widely affected.

Spanish firm Telefonica, French automaker Renault, the US -based delivery service FedEx and the German railway Deutsche Bahn were among those affected. "It's a big priority of mine that we protect the financial infrastructure", he said.

"The numbers are still going up", Wainwright said. News organizations have reported that when details of the bug were initially leaked in March by a group calling itself the "Shadow Brokers", many security researchers predicted it would lead to the creation of self-starting ransomware worms.

By then the "ransomware" attack had crippled Britain's hospital network and computer systems in several countries in an effort to extort money from computer users. Before Friday's attack, Microsoft had made fixes for older systems, such as 2001's Windows XP, available only to those who paid extra for extended technical support.

The patches won't do any good for machines that have already been hit. "Even without having an antivirus", they said.

Colleges: Internet security firm Qihoo360 issued a "red alert" over the weekend, saying a large number of colleges and students in China had been hit by the ransomware attack.

"We've seen the rise of ransomware becoming the principal threat, I think, but this is something we haven't seen before - the global reach is unprecedented", Wainwright said.

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The attack on the National Health Service seemed perhaps the most audacious of the attacks, because it had life-or-death implications for hospitals and ambulance services.

Barts Health, which runs five hospitals in London, said Sunday it was still experiencing disruption to its computer systems and it asked for the public to use other NHS services wherever possible.

As its modus operandi, the Wannacry/ WannaCrypt Ransomware drops user manuals in - Chinese, Indonesian, French, Vietnamese, Turkish, Swedish, Finnish, Greek, Danish, Korean, Croatia, Polish.

Analysts said you should not click the "check payment" or "decrypt" buttons in the popup message.

Russia's Interior Ministry acknowledged a ransomware attack on its computers.

Attacks were being reported in Britain and 11 other countries, including Turkey, Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, with the majority of affected computers in Russian Federation.

"Expect to hear a lot more about this tomorrow morning when users are back in their offices and might fall for phishing emails" or other as yet unconfirmed ways the worm may propagate, said Christian Karam, a Singapore-based security researcher.

Officials and experts on Sunday urged organizations and companies to update their operating systems immediately to ensure they aren't vulnerable to a second, more powerful version of the software — or to future versions that can't be stopped.

He argued there should be "a new requirement for governments to report vulnerabilities to vendors, rather than stockpile, sell, or exploit them".

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