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WannaCry Ransomware: Know How To Protect Yourself From The Unexpected Attack

17 Mai 2017

In what one of the most significant cyberattacks ever recorded, computer systems from the Russia, Brazil and the US were hit beginning Friday by malicious software that exploited a vulnerability in Microsoft's Windows operating system.

The malware attack, which began on Friday and has been linked by some researchers to previous hits by a North Korean-run hacking operation, leveraged a tool built by the NSA that leaked online in April, Microsoft says.

"The recent global ransomware attack exploiting a flaw in Windows, while serious, not only demonstrates the continued ubiquity of Microsoft, but also highlights that numerous affected enterprises or entities that are still using older, and now unsupported, versions of Windows need to accelerate their plans to upgrade to Windows 10", analyst Michael Nemeroff wrote in a note to clients Monday entitled "If you're not current, you're toast". The virus has so far infected almost 200,000 computers world-wide.

On Monday, senior administration officials defended the government's handling of software flaws, without confirming the NSA link to WannaCry, the tool used in the global ransomware attack.

The US National Security Agency (NSA) should shoulder some blame for the attack, which targets vulnerabilities in Microsoft Corp systems and has infected some 30,000 Chinese organisations as of Saturday, the China Daily said. But many corporations don't automatically update their systems, because Windows updates can screw up their legacy software programs.

Microsoft had released a patch in March to counter WannaCrypt ransomware, the company also issued a prompt update on Friday to Windows Defender to detect the WannaCrypt attack.

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Microsoft also dropped a rare fix for users who still used an older Windows software - even though that repair had been previously "retired" - in an effort to halt the ransomware attack, the Financial Times reported.

Anyone who hasn't updated their Windows PC recently.

According to The New York Times, users of Macs or other non-Windows computers were not affected with this.

But renowned cybersecurity expert Dr. Diana Burley credits - in part - the rise of cyberattacks in recent years and the expanse of the weekend's global attack in the failure of the average computer user to take preventative measures to avoid such an attack. But for a host of reasons, even patching computer systems is a hard challenge.

He said that intelligence agencies tended to be good and responsible stewards of the hacks and exploits they develop. A 22-year old security researcher in the United Kingdom discovered a "kill-switch" to initially stop the spread of the attack. However, computers, operators and networks that didn't update their operating systems were still at risk.

The criminals behind this attack based the WannaCry ransomware on a National Security Agency (NSA) exploit that was leaked earlier this year. And WannaCry threatens to create even more havoc on Monday when people return to work.