Cyber attack 'wake-up call for governments — Microsoft chief

The warning was echoed by Britain's National Cyber Security Centre: "As a new working week begins it is likely, in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, that further cases of ransomware may come to light, possibly at a significant scale". The WannaCry hack threatens to delete users' encrypted files in a week if a ransom of $300 isn't met - doubled if the payment isn't made in within three days. He added that the rate of infection has slowed over the weekend. Do not enable macros, cybersecurity company Symantec says.

"The U.S.is still in a relatively good place - I don't want to jinx it", the department official says. "We expect this is a small operation that is undertaking this. They've been able to manage through it".

But he also blamed the governments. "There is this stream of liability that flows from the ransomware attack", he said. "Repeatedly, exploits in the hands of governments have leaked into the public domain and caused widespread damage", he said.

Alex Abdo, a staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said Microsoft and other software companies have strategically settled lawsuits that could lead to court rulings weakening their licensing agreements.

Chinese state media said 29,372 institutions there had been infected along with hundreds of thousands of devices. "This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem".

In India, there were reports of some systems of Andhra Pradesh Police being affected on Saturday, although CERT-In has said that the PCs were isolated and not on a network. Power utilities also reported problems. "WannaCry has the ability to spread itself within corporate networks, without user interaction, by exploiting a known vulnerability in Microsoft Windows".

Auto maker Nissan, which saw its systems being impacted globally, said the Renault-Nissan alliance plant in Chennai came under attack but its India team has responded and there is no major impact on business.

So criminals turned to targeted attacks instead to stay below the radar.

It's not just about updating software, the attacks also stress on the growing need of ethical hackers.

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In his blogpost, Microsoft President Brad Smith said, "The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call". "An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the USA military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen".

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. Two months ago, Microsoft released the patch that could have prevented the outbreak. And while other attackers might use the same flaw, such attacks will be steadily less successful as organizations patch it. Every two hours a tweet is published to announce the total ransom paid so far.

The attack was a reminder that people and businesses should keep their software up to date, or else remain vulnerable, Smith said.

A security expert in England has been hailed as an "accidental hero" for quashing the spread of the initial version of the ransomware late Friday. "All calls on this number will be handled by malware specialists, who will guide people on prevention and remediation". Suspecting that the address had something to do with how the virus communicated-a common feature in botnets and other types of malware-MalwareTech registered the domain and watched as traffic from thousands of infected computers came flooding in, almost overloading the server hosting the domain.

The theft and posting of the stolen data gave criminals a huge head start.

"Thankfully some researchers are already registering the new domains as they identify them", AlienVault researcher Chris Doman says. "At that point, it will be harder to stop new variants". Microsoft had released a patch for supported systems in the March 2017 Patch Tuesday updates with bulletin MS17-010.

In the meantime, Microsoft took the unusual step of hustling to distribute a patch for a flaw in the unsupported version of Windows that WannaCry was exploiting.

It's been reported that the software behind WannaCry was taken from a secretive group inside the National Security Agency.

Beware of unknown emails, especially if there are attachments or links. And remember that any account can be compromised.

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