What is WannaCry ransomware?

The ransomware, also called WannaCry or Wana Decryptor, works by exploiting a vulnerability in some older versions of Windows.

"An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen", Smith wrote. "But also as an attack that represents an extremely serious threat ... this criminal threat has turned into something that has affected hospitals in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, [and] something that might morph into a more hard threatening matter".

Obviously, Smith is referring to the events of 12 May.

Unlike other ransomware families, the WannaCry strain does not spread via infected e-mails or infected links.

Microsoft warned governments Sunday against storing computer vulnerabilities like the leaked one at the heart of the cyberattack that has crippled computers in more than 150 countries.

Smith's statement comes as businesses, hospitals and regular consumers have fallen victims to a huge ransomware attack as hackers exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft's operating system.

5 people hospitalized after eating gas station nacho cheese
The next morning she complained of double vision and went to Sutter Medical Center, but was sent home hours later. Within hours of eating the nacho-cheese sauce, she felt exhausted , her partner, Ricky Torres, told the Bee .

According to the FT, the cost of updating older Windows versions "went from US$200 (RM865.50) per device in 2014, when regular support for XP ended, to US$400 the following year", while some clients were asked to pay heftier fees.

Diving headfirst into a thorny policy debate, Microsoft says governments are partly to blame for the "WannaCrypt" - or "WannaCry" - wordwide cyberattacks.

Microsoft's Brad Smith.Stephen Brashear/Getty ImagesIn short: A USA government cyberweapon was repurposed by criminals to wreck havoc in hospitals and telecoms firms around the world. "They need to take a different approach and adhere in cyberspace to the same rules applied to weapons in the physical world", he said.

"Working through our Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) and Digital Crimes Unit, we'll also share what we learn with law enforcement agencies, governments, and other customers around the world", the software firm said. But as we all know, public agencies have lots of interests besides defending ordinary people, and some of those goals don't benefit from transparency. This leads many to question just how much the NSA hurts, rather than helps in the field of cybersecurity.

While the WannaCry attack hit thousands of computers across around the world, the hospitals affected in the United Kingdom have attracted the most attention.

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