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

Microsoft to NSA: WannaCry is your fault

Microsoft to NSA: WannaCry is your fault

This ransomware attack, which demands users shell out $300 to $600 worth of Bitcoins to regain access to their systems, spread across Asia after rocking Europe this weekend.

Cyber bad guys have spread ransomware, known as WannaCry, to computers around the world.

Microsoft had released a patch in March to counter WannaCrypt ransomware, the company also issued a prompt update on Friday to Windows Defender to detect the WannaCrypt attack.

It has reportedly also threatened to release data from banks which use SWIFT, an global money transfer network, and also information from nuclear and missile programs of countries such as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

With more than 3,500 security engineers at the company, Microsoft said, it is fighting cybersecurity threats with constant updates to its Advanced Threat Protection service.

Its initial objective by the NSA was to gain access to computers used by terrorists and enemy states, but unfortunately, the hackers behind the cyber attack saw this as an opportunity for misuse.

WannaCry, like the majority of ransomware and malware will arrive under your radar, as an email attachment or as a download on your PC. Shutting down a network can prevent the continued encryption - and possible loss - of more files.

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In what one of the most significant cyberattacks ever recorded, computer systems from the Russia, Brazil and the US were hit beginning Friday by malicious software that exploited a vulnerability in Microsoft's Windows operating system. It was patched by Microsoft at the time, but older versions of Windows or those without Windows Update were left open to attacks.

Meanwhile, Microsoft also recently began charging customers more for extra security in the top-of-the-line version of Windows 10. Congressman Ted Lieu, a rare legislator with any background in computer science, sees WannaCry as an opportunity to overhaul the VEP in favor of more disclosure: "Currently the Vulnerabilities Equities Process is not transparent and few people understand how the government makes these critical decisions", the California Democrat wrote in a statement as WannaCry raged around the world. "That's why you need to have a good backup". Make sure your computer is running the latest version of its operating system.

Microsoft released a security patch for the vulnerabilities in March. A new variant of the WannaCry attack surfaced on Monday, according to cybersecurity firm Check Point Software Technologies, but the firm stopped it by using the kill switch, Reuters reports.

Microsoft in a blog post said that, "we at Microsoft have the first responsibility to address these issues".

As for Microsoft, some intelligence agency experts questioned its NSA criticism, saying it's unreasonable for the company to ask governments to stop using its products as a way to attack and monitor enemies.

Smith says cyberweapons require a new approach, and governments must "consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits".

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