Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

Cyber should be wake-up call for govts


"WannaCry", as the ransomware is known, uses a Windows vulnerability originally identified by the NSA, according to security experts. Two months ago, Microsoft released the patch that could have prevented the outbreak.

Bitcoin has rebounded sharply in the wake of a global cyber attack that has governments, corporations and even stock exchanges scrambling to close multiple vulnerabilities.

Shadow Brokers, the group that has taken credit for that leak, threatened on Tuesday to release more recent code to enable hackers to break into the world's most widely used computers, software and phones.

The attack has been described by Europol as unprecedented in scale with the virus software demanding ransom payments in the cryptocurrency bitcoin thus blackmailing the victims.

In Canada, the Universite de Montreal was hit, with 120 of the French-language university's 8,300 computers affected, according to a university spokeswoman.

"For half a century, NSA pried into other people's secrets", said Amy B. Zegart, a Stanford University professor who studies intelligence agencies.

Kaspersky has listed Vietnam among the top 20 countries most affected by this ransomware; the other countries and territories include Russia, Ukraine, India, Taiwan, and mainland China. That prompted the company to issue another patch on Friday for older and unsupported operating systems such as Windows XP, allowing users to secure their systems without needing an upgrade to the latest operating software. "We expect this is a small operation that is undertaking this".

The company reacted to the attacks with a blog post that is worded strongly, thereby criticizing governments for information about vulnerabilities about cybersecurity as stockpiling and likening the WannaCry attack as some Tomahawk missiles got stolen. The post is called How to Accidentally Stop a Global Cyber Attacks. Many ATM's operated normally although there were fears of the system being affected.

2 dead after tornadoes hit Oklahoma, Wisconsin
Around the same time, a tornado hit Barron County, Wisconsin. "They are working house to house, home to home, looking for people". Another tornado was captured on video near Mclean, Texas, though no injuries or significant damage were immediately reported.

Hardwares used for Cybersecurity are displayed at the desk of Security Platform during the TechCrunch Disrupt event in Manhattan, in New York City, NY, U.S. May 15, 2017.

FireEye Inc, another large cyber security firm, said it was also investigating, but it was cautious about drawing a link to North Korea.

Q: Should we expect other cyberattacks like this in the future? Lazarus was behind the attacks on Sony and the Bangladesh banks for example. The NSA did not immediately return a request for comment.

"Concerted efforts to tackle cyber crimes have been hindered by the actions of the United States", it said, adding that Washington had "no credible evidence" to support bans on Chinese tech firms in the United States following the attack. "That people are attempting to lay blame on the company says volumes about them, and about the curious view that some have of software vendors in general and Microsoft in particular". It did not name any of the entities.

The only real security from ransomware is backups and solid security best practices.

"The real situation may be serious". That virus reportedly generated more than $1 million in revenue, going undetected until now.

"Using outdated versions of Windows that are no longer supported raises a lot of questions", said Christopher Dore, a lawyer specialising in digital privacy law at Edelson PC.

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