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Cybersecurity experts say the unknown hackers who launched this weekend's "ransomware" attacks used a vulnerability that was exposed in NSA documents leaked online.
Security company Symantec says that ransomware attacks alone jumped by more than one-third to over 483,800 incidents in 2016.
But policy making isn't necessarily the only solution, said Casey Ellis, CEO of San Francisco cybersecurity company Bugcrowd. The share of Windows 7, released in 2009, is 48.5 percent and 7 percent of the world's internet-connected computers still use 16-year-old Windows XP. Even after payment, the ransomware doesn't automatically release your computer and decrypt your files, according to security researchers.
Theft of the software was reported in April, when it was published by the Shadow Brokers, a group that has been linked to Russian Federation.
WannaCry exploits a vulnerability in older versions of Windows, including Windows 7 and Windows XP.
Microsoft and the NSA have each been blaming the other for the ability of WannaCrypt to utilize a vulnerability in SMBv1 to spread.
Expert and Security agencies are yet to find that who is behind the attack. Interestingly, Microsoft had patched the vulnerability right before the stolen data was published in March. Though Grobman agrees with his colleague at Microsoft: These last few days, battling the WannaCry attack, have been very long. Organizations still using any of the unsupported platforms will get regular security updates only if they pay enormous fees for "custom support". And while Microsoft said it had already released a security update to patch the vulnerability one month earlier, the sequence of events fed speculation that the NSA hadn't told the us tech giant about the security risk until after it had been stolen.
A good thing is that the flaw does not exist in Windows 10. "I'm anxious about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn on their machines on Monday", he said. Just go to Microsoft's website and install the update.
Prevention is the best way to avoid becoming a ransomware victim. Be wary of malicious email attachments and links.
Businesses and networks across Asia are coping with the first wave of WannaCry during their workweek. Microsoft also found itself giving tech support to one more unusual group: thieves, people who used pirated, illegal copies of Windows.
New variants of the rapidly replicating worm were discovered Sunday. "If you need that data back, you're going to pay". It brings us to another important point.
Microsoft effectively confirmed what many analysts have stated, that the ransomware known as "WannaCry" was created to exploit NSA software that was leaked earlier this year by a group calling itself Shadow Brokers.
However, Hutchins and other security analysts warned that "this is not over". "If someone kidnaps your child, you may pay your ransom but there is no guarantee your child will return".
Bossert said less than $70,000 has been paid in response to the cyberattacks.
"This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem", Microsoft president and general counsel Brad Smith said in a weekend blog post.
Europol's European Cybercrime Centre said that anyone hit by ransomware should use the unlocking tools provided at NoMoreRansom.org, a free resource developed by Europol in partnership with the Dutch police and other industry partners. He says that when the NSA lost control of the software behind the cyberattack, it was like "the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen".