Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

Microsoft blasts spy agencies for hoarding security exploits

On a similar note, Europol said the ransomware attack is at an unprecedented level.

The ransomware appeared to exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was purportedly identified by the U.S. National Security Agency for its own intelligence-gathering purposes and was later leaked to the internet.

He said tech companies, customers and the government need to "work together" to protect against attacks.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) said the attack should be treated around the world as a "wake-up call", saying software vulnerabilities hoarded by governments have caused "widespread damage".

The NSA and White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the Microsoft statement.

After a massive cyber-attack on Friday night, some security experts have warned that another make take place on Monday.

It comes as the former U.S. national intelligence director said the global "ransomware" attack could grow much larger when people return to work.

The investigations into the attack were in the early stages, however, and attribution for cyberattacks is notoriously hard.

Create regular backups of your important files to a device that isn't left connected to your network as any malware infection could spread to that too.

Infected computers appear to largely be out-of-date devices that organizations deemed not worth the price of upgrading or, in some cases, machines involved in manufacturing or hospital functions that proved too hard to patch without possibly disrupting crucial operations, security experts said.

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Following the spread of the virus globally, Microsoft has since issued an "highly unusual" emergency update.

"The recent attack is at an unprecedented level and will require a complex global investigation to identify the culprits", said Europol, Europe's policing agency.

"And this most recent attack represents a completely unintended but disconcerting link between the two most serious forms of cybersecurity threats in the world today - nation-state action and organized criminal action", Smith said.

Targets both large and small have been hit.

This helps limit the spread of ransomware if hackers do get into your system.

The attack was disrupting computers that run factories, banks, government agencies and transport systems in scores of countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, Spain, India and Japan, among others. The hospital said it expected big queues on Monday when about 500 people were due to register. This malware will encrypt a user's files and then demand some Bitcoin ransom to decrypt them.

Ryan Kalember, senior vice president at Proofpoint Inc. which helped stop its spread, said the version without a kill switch was able to spread but was benign because it contained a flaw that wouldn't allow it to take over a computer and demand ransom to unlock files.

Analysts had feared that the attack, which started spreading on Friday, could accelerate as workers returned to their desks after the weekend and turned on compromised machines.

Security solutions providers have also accelerated efforts to develop tools to tide over the crisis.

The malware behind WannaCry (also called WannaCrypt, Wana Decryptor or WCry) was reported to have been stolen from the NSA in April.

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