Microsoft shifts policy after cyber attack, now makes fixes free

Evrard Martin
Mai 14, 2017

Indeed, while FedEx Corp. reported that its Windows computers were "experiencing interference" from malware - it wouldn't say if it had been hit by the ransomware - other impacts in the USA were not readily apparent on Saturday.

He said it's likely the ransomware will spread to USA firms too.

The malware is spread by taking advantage of a Windows vulnerability that Microsoft released a security patch for in March.

A cyberattack that is forcing computer owners to pay hundreds of dollars in ransom to unlock their files has hit nearly every corner of the world.

"The impact on the USA seems to be negligible - very tiny impact, very few victims", the senior intelligence official told ABC News Saturday, adding that there is "no attribution yet" to any individuals, groups or nation-states behind the attacks reported in more than 100 countries. Mikko Hypponen, its chief research officer, calls it "the biggest ransomware outbreak in history". Several cybersecurity firms said they had identified the malicious software behind the attack, which has apparently hit Russian Federation the hardest.

"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. "We need to take the act of keeping our systems and devices up to date seriously", said Tyler Cohen Wood, a former senior intelligence official involved in cyber operations.

If your computer has been affected, there's no guarantee that paying the ransom will restore it, Gazeley said.

Volk added that ministry experts are now working to recover the system and do necessary security updates.

The security holes it exploits were disclosed several weeks ago by TheShadowBrokers, a mysterious group that has published what it says are hacking tools used by the NSA as part of its intelligence-gathering. Microsoft swiftly announced that it had already issued software "patches" to fix those holes, but many users haven't yet installed updates or still use older versions of Windows.

The malware's name is WCry, but analysts were also using variants such as WannaCry.

Chris Wysopal, of the software security firm Veracode, said criminal organisations were probably behind the attack, given how quickly the malware spread. He says "for so many organizations in the same day to be hit, this is unprecedented". "It would not be very hard at all to re-release this ransomware attack without a kill switch or without an approved kill switch that only they can activate".

The spokesman, Jan Op Gen Oorth, declined to give further details Friday so as not to jeopardize the ongoing investigations. Russia's health ministry said its attacks were "effectively repelled".

The railway said that there was no impact on actual train services.

In Russia, government agencies insisted that all attacks had been resolved.

The foreign ministry did not confirm whether it was the institution in question.

A top Russian mobile operator says it has come under cyberattacks that appeared similar to those that have crippled some United Kingdom hospitals.

Grant Gowers, 50, from Clacton-on-Sea in southern England, told CNN how the ransomware attack had directly affected him. He said that mobile communications haven't been affected. The initial demand was for $300 in bitcoins, but it now has gone up to $600 worth of the currency, Gazeley said. The committee, the nation's top investigative agency, has rejected the claim. The U.K.'s National Cyber Security Center said it is "working round the clock" to restore vital health services. But the NHS said Saturday it does not have any evidence that patient data was breached.

Ransomware attacks are on the rise around the world.

Similar widespread attacks have been reported in Spain and other countries.

The move, which Microsoft's security response centre said was "highly unusual", was taken to protect the company's customer ecosystem.

Spain's Telefonica, a global broadband and telecommunications company, was among the companies hit. Microsoft says now it will make the fixes free for everyone.

"It's an worldwide attack and a number of countries and organizations have been affected", she said.

There were no details on which companies were targeted or the origin of the attack.

Britain's home secretary said one in five of 248 National Health Service groups had been hit.

It was believed to the biggest attack of its kind ever recorded.

Hospitals across Britain found themselves without access to their computers or phone systems.

A senior nurse with NHS Lanarkshire in Scotland posted a video on Twitter appealing to members of the public "to stay away from acute hospitals unless it's an absolute emergency situation" while its IT systems remain affected. Many canceled all routine procedures and asked patients not to come to the hospital unless it was an emergency.

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