Microsoft Offers Free Security Fixes After Global Cyber Attack

Barsaba Taglieri
Mag 16, 2017

Wainwright says he is anxious that the ransomware attack might spread further once people return to work on Monday and log on to their computers.

First, there were reports of Spain's largest telecom being hit with pop-up windows demanding a $300 ransom, paid in the cryptocurrency bitcoin, to access files.

The government is not legally bound to notify at-risk companies.

Shares in cybersecurity specialist Sophos surged more than 7 per cent this morning, following the major cyber attack that took place over the weekend.

MacGibbon said it was still not known how the virus had originated and then spread, although it was likely the transmission included email.

The researcher tweeted that he initially didn't know that his actions would stop the malware. The ease of stopping the attack suggests the hackers were new to this game.

The hack wasn't just limited to computer systems in the UK. Copycat attacks could follow.

Nonetheless, the experts say such widespread attacks are tough to pull off.

"Boards are working on protecting and restoring those systems, with a view to getting most operational by Monday". All sectors of the economy were vulnerable and organizations could take lessons from the banking industry, which appeared to have largely escaped the global attack.

"The numbers are still going up", Wainwright said.

Hundreds of thousands of computers around the world have been infected with a malicious software called WannaCry that encrypts files. The exploit was leaked last month as part of a trove of NSA spy tools.

The ransomware exploited a vulnerability that has been patched in updates of recent versions of Windows since March, but Microsoft didn't make freely available the patch for Windows XP and other older systems. So even people with older computers should go update them.

The patches won't do any good for machines that have already been hit.

European police agency Europol said it was working to support countries, saying the malware attack was at an "unprecedented level and requires worldwide investigation".

Europol said a special task force at its European Cybercrime Centre was "specially created to assist in such investigations and will play an important role in supporting the investigation". He added that ransomware attacks were normally criminal rather than political in nature.

"IT managers need to be extremely aware that new variants of this ransomware attack are being launched almost hourly, so they can't just check that their computer systems are protected, then relax, assuming everything will stay that way", he said.

The effects were felt across the globe, with Russia's Interior Ministry and companies including Spain's Telefonica, FedEx Corp.in the USA and French carmaker Renault all reporting disruptions.

In England, 48 National Health Service (NHS) trusts fell victim, as did 13 NHS bodies in Scotland.

So far, unknown. Security agencies in affected countries were scrambling to find out.

Gas stations: State-run media in China reported that some gas stations saw their digital payment systems shut down, forcing customers to bring cash.

Experts say the spread of the virus had been stymied by a security researcher in the United Kingdom hackers have issued new versions of the virus that cyber security organizations are actively trying to counter and stamp out. The police chief's computer with Apple's iOS operating system was safe.

FedEx: The company said it was "experiencing interference with some of our Windows-based systems caused by malware" and was trying to fix the problems as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile health authorities are racing to upgrade security software amid fears hackers could exploit the same vulnerability with a new virus.

Signs outside the unit warned patients not to book in unless they had "a very serious illness or injury".

Consumers who have up-to-date software are protected from this ransomware.

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