Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Medical | By Dorothy Lyons

5 ways to become a smaller target for ransomware hackers

5 ways to become a smaller target for ransomware hackers

Unfortunately, those so-called legacy systems are disproportionately used by smaller companies with small technology staffs, which are unlikely to have blocked the infection before Microsoft's patch began rolling out, the cybersecurity firm Proofpoint Inc. said.

Officials across the globe scrambled over the weekend to catch the culprits behind a massive ransomware worm that disrupted operations at vehicle factories, hospitals, shops and schools, while Microsoft on Sunday pinned blame on the USA government for not disclosing more software vulnerabilities. These are all names for the world's largest ever ransomware development, in which 150 countries hosted more than 200,000 attacks. He said it was too early to say who is behind the onslaught and what their motivation was.

Analysts said you should not click the "check payment" or "decrypt" buttons in the popup message.

The attack held users hostage by freezing their computers, popping up a red screen with the words, "Oops, your files have been encrypted!" and demanding money through online bitcoin payment - $300 at first, rising to $600 before it destroys files hours later. The effects were felt across the globe, with Russia's Interior Ministry and companies including Spain's Telefonica, FedEx Corp.in the USA and French carmaker Renault all reporting disruptions.

Chinese media reported Sunday that students at several universities were hit, blocking access to their thesis papers and dissertation presentations. So far approximately 200,000 computers in over 150 countries have been impacted, making this the largest global ransomware attack to date.

Symantec said the majority of organisations affected were in Europe.

When the National Security Agency lost control of the software behind the WannaCry cyberattack, it was like "the us military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen", Microsoft President Brad Smith says, in a message about the malicious software that has created havoc on computer networks in more than 150 countries since Friday.

Friday's attack was based on a Windows vulnerability that was purportedly identified by the U.S. National Security Agency and was later leaked to the internet.

Darien Huss, a 28-year-old research engineer who helped MalwareTech, agreed the threat was far from over.

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How does WannaCry work and what can we do to protect ourselves? Incidentally, this is the same researcher who managed to stop the ransomware attack from spreading by accidentally discovering a "kill switch" within the malware's code. Normally, such patches are reserved for organizations willing to pay for extended support.

Always install your updates as companies always release software updates to fix vulnerabilities that can be exploited to install ransomware.

This security update resolves vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows.

Microsoft is offering the same advice and has taken steps to protect PCs which are still using unsupported systems like Windows XP.

The massive ransomware attacks that started late Friday have locked people out of their computers and demanded hundreds of dollars from the users before they could regain control.

A United Kingdom security researcher known as "MalwareTech", who helped to limit the ransomware attack, predicted "another one coming. quite likely on Monday". That low-priced move redirected the attacks to MalwareTech's server, which operates as a "sinkhole" to keep malware from escaping.

Once your files are encrypted, your options are limited.

In March, Wikileaks released 8,761 documents and files outlining the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) hacking toolkit, that was aimed at exploiting flaws in Apple, Samsung and Microsoft.

"Obviously, they want those tools in order to spy on people of interest, on other countries, to conduct surveillance", Cluley said. "We have been in touch with microsoft and others.Even they have not got any reports", Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), director general, Sanjay Bahl told PTI. "But there's clearly some culpability on the part of the US intelligence services".

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