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

Posted May 19, 2017

It also took advantage of previously-identified security hole to which some users didn't apply a patch Microsoft released in March. Microsoft requires Windows 10 customers to automatically update their computers, but some people with older PCs disabled automatic updates. Some cybersecurity experts are wondering if the vulnerability exposed with the leaked US government documents could be part of the attraction.

"There's nothing you can do but pay once you're hit", Camacho said in an interview.

As the effects of the WannaCry global ransomware attack continue to be felt, there is evidence emerging that the hackers are not decrypting the files of victims who decide to pay the USA $300 ransom.

Problems with cyber security in NHS organisations were highlighted past year by Dame Fiona Caldicott, the national data guardian, who warned that issues were given insufficient priority and that health bodies persisted in using obsolete computer systems, The Times said. That way, if your machine gets infected and your photos and documents are encrypted, you don't need to worry about losing them.

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Many computers remained unpatched, allowing the WannaCry bug to infect them. But there was no fix initially for Windows XP, an operating system which many customers continue to use notwithstanding its end-of-life status.

"I was actually panicking because because one of my analysts made a mistake and they had said by registering the url we had started the infection", the unnamed researcher told ABC News. It brings us to another important point. The total amount of money paid to the anonymous bitcoin wallets used by hackers was only $55,169 from 209 payments, according to Reuters based on its estimates using publicly available data.

Should you pay the ransom?

On Monday, the British National Crime Agency tweeted an infographic of helpful "Dos" and "Don'ts" to help minimize the effects of ransomware. In other words, paying may not guarantee you can again access your files.

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WannaCry locks the data on a computer system and leaves the user with two files: instructions on what to do and the Wanna Decryptor program. "This is one reason we called in February for a new 'Digital Geneva Convention' to govern these issues, including a new requirement for governments to report vulnerabilities to vendors, rather than stockpile, sell, or exploit them". By that time, Microsoft had discovered the bug on its own and issued a security update, but many users with older versions of Windows no longer receive such updates.

In a blog post, he said: "An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the USA military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen".

Some of the big ones that have been affected include NHS (UK), Telefónica (Spain), Megafon, Interior Ministry, Russian Railways, Russian Central Bank (Russia), Deutsche Bahn (Germany), gas stations and colleges in China, Fedex and Nissan.

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