Ransomware cyber-attack a wake-up call, Microsoft warns

A Bitcoin ATM at the Staten Island Ferry's Whitehall Terminal in New York

"In the event of infection, this will help you recover all data", said Urban Schrott, IT security and cybercrime analyst with Eset Ireland.

If another wave should come, the virus is likely to be far more resilient than it is at the moment.

(AP Photo/Paul White). A security guard stands outside the Telefonica headquarters in Madrid, Spain, Friday, May 12, 2017. It's a good idea to back up files to a drive that remains entirely disconnected from your network. Dozens of countries were hit with a huge cyberextortion.

The unprecedented global cyberattack has hit more than 200,000 victims in scores of countries, Europol said Sunday, warning that the situation could escalate when people return to work.

The attack that began Friday is believed to be the biggest online extortion attack ever recorded, spreading chaos by locking computers that run Britain's hospital network, Germany's national railway and scores of other companies, factories and government agencies worldwide. The cost of buying Internet anti-virus security programs must be built into all budgets, besides levels of alacrity in putting to work security patches that leading companies like Microsoft put out to protect systems from malware. One has been blocked with another domain name registration, but the other variant has no kill switch, but is only partially working.

The ransomware locks users' computers and demands a $300 payment in order to re-gain access. "We haven't fully dodged this bullet at all until we're patched against the vulnerability itself". It demands users pay United States dollars 300 worth of cryptocurrency Bitcoin to retrieve their files, though it warns that the payment will be raised after a certain amount of time.

"I'm anxious about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn on their machines on Monday", Europol director Rob Wainwright told Britain's ITV television.

"Looking at the trends, it was going to happen", he said. "We've seen that the slowdown of the infection rate over Friday night, after a temporary fix around it, has now been overcome by a second variation the criminals have released". Brad Smith, who is Microsoft's chief legal officer, said Sunday in a blog post that his company, its customers and the government all share the blame.

Chinese media reported on Sunday that students at several universities were hit, blocking access to their thesis papers and dissertation presentations.

The effects of the attack on Turkey is unclear.

He added that the Cyber Swachhta Kendra - government's portal on information about cyber security - is being updated on regular basis since Saturday. "The bad guys are always one step ahead". He said it was too early to say who is behind the onslaught and what their motivation was. So far, not many people have paid the ransom demanded by the malware, Europol spokesman Jan Op Gen Oorth told The Associated Press. "The malware software encrypted files on a victim's computer. but also went on to look for other computers on the same network that could be infected and subsequently used to encrypt files on them".

In India, there were reports of some systems of Andhra Pradesh police being affected on Saturday, although CERT-In has said that the PCs were isolated and not on a network.

Microsoft released a security patch for the vulnerabilities in March.

The attacks exploited the computers because they were running outdated versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system.

Disable your computer's Server Message Block service.

"Hundreds of thousands" of Chinese computers at almost 30,000 institutions including government agencies have been hit by the global ransomware attack, a leading Chinese security-software provider has said, though the Asian impact has otherwise been relatively muted.

"It's one of those things, in a ideal world, if people were up to date on the patches, this wouldn't be a problem", O'Leary said. The patch lists can be ginormous.


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