Published: Tue, May 16, 2017
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Attack on computers appears to have ebbed


Russian Federation has recently been accused of cyber meddling in several countries, but Putin said they had nothing to do with the attack.

The Department of Homeland Security began an "aggressive awareness campaign" to alert industry partners to the importance of installing the Microsoft patch shortly after it was released in March, an agency official working on the attack said.

CERT-In has been on an overdrive advising critical infrastructure agencies including banks, airports, telecom networks and stock markets to take precautions against the ransomware attack by downloading software "patches".

Routine surgery and general practitioner appointments at affected trusts have been canceled while it attempts to get services back online.

Thousands of infections were reported on Monday - mainly in Asia, where businesses were closed when the malware first hit.

The U.K. National Health Service is still struggling to return to normal on Monday after it was hit with the massive WannaCry ransomware attack on Friday.

New variants of the rapidly replicating worm were discovered Sunday and one did not include the so-called kill switch that allowed researchers to interrupt its spread Friday by diverting it to a dead end on the internet.

"We have reached a turning point where it is not sustainable for governments to think they can retain vulnerabilities for very long", said Ari Schwartz, who oversaw technology security issues at the National Security Council during the Obama administration. Companies including Hitachi and Nissan Motor Co. reported problems but said they had not seriously affected their operations. In Indonesia, the malware locked patient files on computers in two hospitals in the capital, Jakarta, causing delays.

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There were reports that the virus has infected around 10 computers in the offices of West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company, state power minister Sovandeb Chattopadhyay confirmed.

WannaCry demands that users pay between $300 (around Rs 19,000) and $600 (around Rs 39,000) in bitcoin in lieu of getting their data decrypted. Brad Smith criticized USA intelligence agencies, including the CIA and National Security Agency, for "stockpiling" software code that can be used by hackers.

Officials across the globe scrambled to catch the culprits behind a massive ransomware worm that disrupted operations at vehicle factories, hospitals, shops and schools, while Microsoft pinned blame on the U.S. government for not disclosing more software vulnerabilities.

Steven Weber, faculty director at the Centre for Long-Term Cybersecurity at the University of California, said "the fault is pretty distributed - there are plenty of people to blame".

President Donald Trump's homeland security advisor Tom Bossert dismissed the idea that the United States is to blame.

Eiichi Moriya, a cybersecurity expert and professor at Meiji University, warned that paying the ransom would not guarantee a fix.

"The number of victims appears not to have gone up", a senior spokesman for Europol, Jan Op Gen Oorth, told AFP.

"You are dealing with a criminal", he said. "It's like after a robber enters your home".

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