How to avoid the ransomware attack

It is believed to be the biggest online extortion ever, hitting British hospitals, German rail and companies and government agencies.

WannaCry and its variants like Wana-Crypt and Wanna Decryptor target computers that use Microsoft's Windows operating system. It disrupted computers that run factories, banks, government agencies and transport systems.

This particular attack used malicious emails to encrypt a computer's data and demand payment of hundreds of dollars to decode the data.

Business group Ibec called for fresh funding to tackle ransomware threats, saying it was liaising with the Department of Communications to monitor the situation. He reiterated Microsoft's call for a "Digital Geneva Convention" to create new requirements for governments to report vulnerabilities to vendors rather than stockpile, sell, or weaponize them. The tools appeared stolen by hackers, who dumped them on the internet.

British media had reported past year that most public health organizations were using an outdated version of Microsoft Windows that was not equipped with security updates.

Still, researchers say, many computer systems continue to be infected by the "WannaCry" malware program and the domain fix may still leave some people, especially corporations, vulnerable.

The phenomenon of companies failing to update their systems has been a persistent security problem for years. A top Russian mobile operator said Friday it had come under cyberattacks that appeared similar to those that have crippled some United Kingdom ho.

Anyone who hasn't updated their Windows PC recently. In response, Microsoft has TODAY released emergency security patches to defend against the malware for these unsupported versions of Windows, such as XP and Server 2003. "As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, there is simply no way for customers to protect themselves against threats unless they update their systems".

Interior Ministry: The Russian Interior Ministry acknowledged a ransomware attack on its computers, adding that less than 1% of computers were affected.

The justice secretary said: "Friday's attack has highlighted the need for everyone to have appropriate and robust measures in place to protect against cyber-attacks which could strike any IT system at any time". Businesses, government agencies and other organizations were urged to quickly implement a patch released by Microsoft Corp.

If you have not done so before, think about backing up important data: Save your data to an external hard drive if possible. Ryan Kalember, senior vice president at Proofpoint Inc. which helped stop its spread, said the version without a kill switch was able to spread but was benign because it contained a flaw that wouldn't allow it to take over a computer and demand ransom to unlock files. The ease of stopping the attack suggests the hackers were new to this game.

Dr Krishna Chinthapalli, a neurology registrar at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, had warned that an increasing number of hospitals could be shut down by ransomware attacks in an article on the vulnerability of the NHS network in the 'British Medical Journal' on Wednesday, two days before the major cyber-hack.

The cyberattack was stemmed by a young British researcher and an low-priced domain registration, with help from another 20-something security engineer in the U.S.

The U.K. government's cyber office put it succinctly: "T$3 he way these attacks work means that compromises of machines and networks that have already occurred may not yet have been detected, and that existing infections from the malware can spread within networks".