United States should not stockpile cyber weapons, Microsoft says

Europol director Rob Wainwright told ITV's the attack was unique in that the ransomware was used in combination with "a worm functionality" so the infection spread automatically.

"As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, there is simply no way for customers to protect themselves against threats unless they update their systems", Smith wrote. But how much do individuals need to worry about their personal computers being targeted?

WannaCrypt spreads rapidly and encrypts files on victims' computes with the 2048-bit AES algorithm, before demanding a ransom of US$300 or US$600 (A$406 - A$812) payable in Bitcoin.

Meanwhile health authorities are racing to upgrade security software amid fears hackers could exploit the same vulnerability with a new virus. Microsoft had issued a patch on March 14, but many computers hadn't run the update.

"Currently the spreading of the ransomware is slowed down dramatically because a researcher found a logic bug in the malware, not because the companies around the world are having good security practice", Matt Suiche, founder of Comae Technologies, a cybersecurity company in the United Arab Emirates.

A Microsoft (MSFT) executive has blasted the Central Intelligence Agency and NSA for "stockpiling" vulnerabilities in software instead of reporting them to industry so that they can be fixed.

With the new Swiftkey acquisition, Windows users will be able to copy on PC and paste it on the smartphone.

"For those organizations who have not yet applied the security update, we suggest you immediately deploy Microsoft Security Bulletin MS17-010". Turn on auto-updaters where available (Microsoft offers that option). Railway stations, mail delivery, gas stations, hospitals, office buildings, shopping malls and government services were also said to be affected.

If you don't already have a backup routine, start now and regularly save copies of all your files.

"They don't get it", he said. While India's cyber security unit CERT-In is yet to receive a formal intimation of any major attacks, it has reached out to all government agencies and public utilities to stay alert. Don't click on links that you don't recognize, or download files from people you don't know personally.

"But let me just assure you, we are spending money on strengthening the cyber defence of our hospital system".

The effects were felt across the globe, with Britain's National Health Service, Russia's Interior Ministry and companies including Spain's Telefonica, FedEx Corp.in the USA and French carmaker Renault all reporting disruptions.