World braces for more cyberattacks as work week begins

Claudine Rigal
Mai 16, 2017

What computers are affected by the cyberattack?

The cyberattack threat just became very real this weekend, with ransomware dubbed "WannaCry" affecting PCs and laptops in more than 150 countries.

Officials across the globe scrambled over the weekend to catch the culprits behind a massive ransomware worm that disrupted operations at auto factories, hospitals, shops and schools, while Microsoft yesterday pinned blame on the US government for not disclosing more software vulnerabilities. That has left Windows XP particularly exposed to new methods of hacking.

There is a bit of hope; numerous hacker tools rely on since-patched vulnerabilities in operating systems and software.

Microsoft released fixes for the vulnerability in March, but computers that didn't run the update were subject to the ransom attack.

The attack held users hostage by freezing their computers, popping up a red screen with the words, "Oops, your files have been encrypted!" and demanding money through online bitcoin payment - $300 at first, rising to $600 before it destroys files hours later.

NHS staff have been given strict instructions about using computer equipment.

WannaCry, the virus involved in the current attack, is thought to be based on software developed by the US National Security Agency.

Wainwright said Europol had been concerned about cyber security in the healthcare sector, which deals with a lot of sensitive data, but declined to comment on whether Britain's National Health Service had been adequately funded. "This messes up with the security system in the computer and makes it vulnerable to attacks", Mukesh says.

The worm was effectively contained when a researcher, largely on a whim, registered a domain name he found included in the self-replicating Windows exploit that delivered ransomware known as WCry. Europol, the European Union law-enforcement agency, has advised people to be wary of clicking on links in or downloading attachments from any emails from senders they do not recognise. Users who keep their patches up-to-date - admittedly, a hard task in environments where patches may interfere with the operation of legacy software, or those who still run unsupported operating systems - are at less risk.

Patched computers carry a much lower risk of being infected by malware or ransomware than those without an update.

A "range" of Windows operation systems are used by the NHS in Scotland and Ms Sturgeon said there is regular investment in cyber security.

The Kaspersky Lab estimated up to five percent of computers affected around the world could be located in India, due to the number of computers there using older versions of Microsoft's operating system.

Windows 7 and Windows 10 are more popular than XP, with around 49% and 26% market share respectively. While this protected newer Windows systems and computers that had enabled Windows Update to apply this latest update, many computers remained unpatched globally. This guards against many types of malware and ransomware.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said the concerning incident shows measures to prevent future attacks need to be a priority. Other researchers, including Kevin Beaumont, are also telling us they haven't yet seen a variant of WannaCrypt without a kill switch.

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