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19 May 2017, 09:50 | Patty Hardy
Who's being targeted for blame? Microsoft, which makes the Windows operating-system software, has meanwhile hastily released security patches for pre-Windows 10 versions, still in wide use, to guard against WannaCry.
All of these curiosities have caused some to believe the attack might have been less a real ransomware attack in search of cash payouts, than an attempt to mock the NSA, perhaps by the presumed Russian state actors that hacked the NSA and stole these exploit tools in the first place, notes Wired. As of Tuesday, some experts claimed that less than $1 million had been paid in ransom, although it was not immediately clear how many victims who had paid had actually regained access to their data.
"You can point a lot of fingers, but I think given that this was not a zero-day vulnerability (for which no patch is available), the people hacked are to blame", said Robert Cattanach, a partner at the worldwide law firm Dorsey & Whitney and an expert on cybersecurity and data breaches. "Microsoft can't be proud".
Individual users are the linchpin in cybersecurity and have a key role to play in their own cybersecurity. Many voice applications, in fact, use speech recognition technology that is tied to the current Windows operating system, making a "port" to a new OS platform an even greater challenge.
"The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call", Smith said.
The ACLU, meanwhile, urged Congress to pass a law requiring the government to disclose vulnerabilities to companies "in a timely manner", so that they can patch them as soon as possible. Even though there are ways to install the latest updates on updates on Windows which are not genuine, Microsoft is also implementing restrictions every once in a while, so depending on the release, it could be more or less hard to patch a pirated Windows copy.
If there's anything, Microsoft should indeed be appreciated for their response on the entire issue.
Still, it was Microsoft that wrote the exploitable software to begin with. But the digital devastation suffered by the NHS is not limited to the old operating system.
On Sunday, Microsoft took the unusual step of releasing a new patch for the old Windows XP system to address the vulnerability, which is an indicator of how serious the threat is. But you can also set your devices to install those updates automatically so you don't even have to think about it. Hackers prey on complacency. He said using the WannaCry crisis to encourage customers to move on to newer software was in part self-serving, since Microsoft's business model has shifted and it makes more from its newer software than it did when it sold XP.
But patching systems, especially across large, complex networks, is tricky and often organisations delay doing so. Multiple backups also help.
"It's not rocket science", Litan said.
China's cyber authorities have repeatedly pushed for what they call a more "equitable" balance in global cyber governance, criticising US dominance. Asked what the company is doing to prevent such exploitations, he cited "basic IT security blocking and tackling". "A computer running XP today is a castle with no moat, portcullis raised, doors flung open, greeting the ravaging hoards with wine spritzers and jam".
In other words, if people had simply stayed on top of security updates, their machines would not have been infected.
This variant of malware is touted by computer security experts as the world's first "ransomworm", a type of ransomware that has the ability to spread throughout computer systems without user intervention or interaction. "We have what they want", he says.
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