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

U.S. authorities have said cyberattacks via ransomware are a growing problem, having previously hit entire computer networks at universities, businesses and hospitals.

The worldwide effort to extort cash from computer users is the first widely successful example of ransomware that self-replicates like a virus, and it prompted Microsoft to quickly change its policy, announcing free security patches to fix this vulnerability in the older Windows systems still used by millions of individuals and smaller businesses.

The 200,000 victims included more than 100,000 organizations, Europol spokesman Jan Op Gen Oorth told The Associated Press. Unfortunately, the patch won't help computers that are already infected.

Friday's ransomware outbreak, which used recently revealed weaknesses in Microsoft's Windows operating system to spread further and faster than any before, has prompted the Redmond-based developer to break its own rules on software maintenance in an effort to keep users safe.

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. Security researchers have discovered variants of the Windows malware that either doesn't have a kill switch, or which ping to a different domain than the one discovered by the researcher. The ease of stopping the attack suggests the hackers were new to this game.

That said, a hacker could remove the domain and try the ransomware attack again, reports CNN. The NHS said in a statement on Saturday that there was no evidence that patient information had been compromised. Microsoft also recommends using antivirus software for Windows. State media reported that digital payment systems at PetroChina gas stations were offline, forcing customers to pay cash.

Trump calls for 'good shutdown' to fix mess in Senate
The funds would also not be included in calculating the starting point for future negotiations over defense spending. Democrats say House Republicans up for re-election next year will face a backlash from voters over the bill.

Smith also called cyberattack protection a "shared responsibility" between companies and customers.

Officials across the globe scrambled over the weekend to catch the culprits behind a massive ransomware virus that disrupted operations at auto factories, hospitals, shops and schools, locking up more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries and demanding $300 (€274.21 ) in payments to restore access.

As a loose global network of cybersecurity experts fought the ransomware, the attack was disrupting computers that run factories, banks, government agencies and transport systems in scores of countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, Spain, India and Japan, among others. Businesses need to patch to be completely protected, but Hickey's solution works for organizations that might need more time to upgrade.

You must develop a habit of installing security update immediately.

Just in case, if you are not updated on what we are talking about - it is a recently launched ransomware which locks down all the files on your system. Here's how to turn automatic updates on.

The software tools to create the attack were revealed in April among a trove of NSA spy tools that were either leaked or stolen. Then it will scan the internet for vulnerable machines.

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