Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

Microsoft criticises NSA's role in the global cyber attack

These attacks have been in the nature of what are called "ransomware, ' wherein attackers demand a ransom (usually in Bitcoins, which are tougher to trace than regular currency) to decrypt the files they have force-encrypted".

While businesses that failed to update Microsoft's Windows-based computer systems could be sued over lax cyber security, Microsoft itself enjoys strong immunity from lawsuits. "There have been isolated incidents in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh", said Union Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, adding that the government has formed a cyber coordination centre which would start operating from June to take precautions against cyber-attacks in future.

"We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the Central Intelligence Agency show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world", wrote Smith. "They need to take a different approach and adhere in cyberspace to the same rules applied to weapons in the physical world".

"Repeatedly, exploits in the hands of governments have leaked into the public domain and caused widespread damage".

Former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden echoed that criticism on Twitter.

Despite the discovery of an alleged "kill switch" for the ransomware over the weekend, many Asian countries like India, Japan, South Korea and China have been hit by the malware that began its spread from Europe on Friday. "It is deeply disturbing the National Security Agency likely wrote the original malware".

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It said "computer hardware and software that can no longer be supported should be replaced as a matter of urgency".

The WannaCry ransomware made on average $23,333 a day.

"Our research so far puts into question the ability of WannaCry's creators to decrypt your files at all", Check Point Software said in a blog post Sunday.

Microsoft had released in March a patch to fix the flaw exploited this week, but many computers, particularly older systems or devices that hadn't been updated, remained vulnerable.

Smith said that Friday's attack demonstrated how cyber security was becoming a shared responsibility between customer and supplier.

"There is simply no way for customers to protect themselves against threats unless they update their systems".

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