WannaCry Ransomware: Microsoft Calls Out NSA For 'Stockpiling' Vulnerabilities

Till now 30,000 dollars have been taken by the attackers as ransom payment in the form of crypto currency Bitcoin from the various victims.

A Microsoft executive said Sunday that the massive global ransomeware attack - a cyber attack wherein an operating system is locked until a ransom is paid -shows why governments should share vulnerabilities with technology companies rather than hoarding them for potential exploits.

The exploitation of EternalBlue, suspected to have been developed using a hacking method leaked from US National Security Agency, allows the malware to spread through file-sharing protocols set up across the internal networks of organisations, many of which criss-cross the globe, according to Financial Times. We increasingly are among the first responders to attacks on the internet.

Becky Pinkard, from Digital Shadows, a UK-based cyber-security firm, also said it would be easy for the initial attackers or "copy-cat authors" to change the virus code so it is hard to guard against. While a United Kingdom security researcher managed to stop the spread of the virus, hackers have issued new versions that cybersecurity organizations are trying to counter and stamp out.

China appeared over the weekend to have been particularly vulnerable, raising worries about how well the world's second largest economy would cope when it opened for business on Monday.

"But if a server is connected directly to the internet or a PC is on the same network as an infected computer, it can spread quickly - which is exactly what has happened", the Engadget report added.

"This area of law has been stunted in its growth", he said. The initial attack had started after many offices had closed Friday. WannaCry is a ransomware virus that was able to spread thanks to flaws and security gaps in older versions of Windows. One month earlier, Microsoft had released a patch targeting the vulnerability.

Friday's attack exploited vulnerabilities in some versions of Microsoft Windows. Security patches would be available for clients with older machines, but only if they paid for custom support agreements. Smith urged the government "to report vulnerabilities to vendors, rather than stockpile, sell, or exploit them", as the company called for in February when it proposed a new Digital Geneva Convention. Some leading outfits like Britain's National Health Service, Federal Express, Renault, Nissan, Hitachi and Telefonica were badly affected.

Meanwhile, Federal Bank issued a press release stating "Amidst reports of various computer terminals and ATM Machines falling prey to the ransomware attack "WannaCry", all the ATM machines owned, managed and operated by the bank are secure and fully functional".

What about for the hacker or hackers behind the attack - was it worth it? "It was clear warnings were given to hospital trusts".

It was not immediately clear whether those services were suspended due to attacks, or for emergency patching to prevent infection. It is very important to keep systems firewalls, antivirus updated.

Affected bodies included a social security department in the city of Changsha, the exit-entry bureau in Dalian, a housing fund in Zhuhai and an industry watchdog in Xuzhou. You should have these stored in more than one place.

Elsewhere in Asia, the impact seems to have been more limited.

Government agencies were encouraged to take preventative measures against ransomware and other security threats, such as keeping software up to date, avoiding suspect links or attachments in emails, and keeping regular backups. No major Indian corporations reported disruptions to operations.

"You can point a lot of fingers, but I think given that this was not a zero-day vulnerability (for which no patch is available), the people hacked are to blame", said Robert Cattanach, a partner at the worldwide law firm Dorsey & Whitney and an expert on cybersecurity and data breaches. The ransomware locks up the computer with the group which carried out the attack asking for $300 payment in bitcoins to send an unlock key. A coal port in New Zealand shut temporarily to upgrade its systems.

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