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Microsoft accuses NSA for 'stockpiling' software exploits regarding WannaCry ransomware outbreak

20 May 2017, 08:55 | Bernard Bryant

"An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the USA military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen", attorney Brad Smith wrote on Microsoft's blog.

The cyber attack has been deemed as the biggest in history even as IT specialists suggest that the cyber criminals responsible have not made much monetary benefits.

Global cyber chaos was spreading Monday as companies booted up computers at work following the weekend's worldwide "ransomware" cyberattack.

The user is notified that their computer is locked down and instructed to pay a ransom to regain control of their files. BGR reports that the demand is $300 at the time of infection. It's ransomware and stops you from accessing any files on the "infected" computer until you pay the ransom. Around 200,000 victims in 150 countries have been affected, according to European Union police force Europol, many of them businesses including major corporations such as Nissan, FedEx and Hitachi.

There have also been no reports from people claiming they've successfully recovered their files after paying the ransom.

Payment is demanded within three days or the price is doubled, and if none is received within seven days, the files will be deleted, according to the screen message.

The effect in Asian nations so far on Monday has been limited.

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Europol's European Cybercrime Centre said that anyone hit by ransomware should use the unlocking tools provided at NoMoreRansom.org, a free resource developed by Europol in partnership with the Dutch police and other industry partners.

"The numbers are still going up", Wainwright said.

The initial attack, known as "WannaCry", paralyzed computers running Britain's hospital network, Germany's national railway and scores of other companies and government agencies around the world. 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. "An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen", wrote Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer.

"The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call", Smith said.

Drawing a comparison with the global rules that apply to conventional weapons, Smith is urging governments to act more responsibly with what are basically cyber weapons. In most cases, a new version of Windows or another operating system would also need a new computer that was powerful enough to run it, and potentially new bespoke hardware and software to enable the organisation to do its job. It has attacked hundreds of thousands of computers, security experts say, from hospital systems in the United Kingdom and a telecom company in Spain to universities and large companies in Asia. But some experts have argued this attack could have been vastly mitigated if the NSA told Microsoft sooner. If there is a flaw in Windows, the company said, surely the safest thing to do is to let its team know straight away so it can be fixed. FedEx, Nissan, and the United Kingdom's National Health Service were among the victims. Tough - time-consuming, expensive and complex.

Smith said Microsoft has the "first responsibility" to address the problem. Windows and antivirus software - see below - can help to protect you from ransomware attacks, but you can help yourself by being extremely cautious about which email attachments you open and which links you click.



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