Hi-Tech

Security Minister calls Windows XP accusations 'red herrings — NHS cyber attack

Security Minister calls Windows XP accusations 'red herrings — NHS cyber attack

In addition to ensuring applications and operating systems are patched with the latest security updates, CERT says organizations should "be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, visits, or email messages from individuals asking about employees or other internal information".

The state-run People's Daily compared the cyber attack to the terrorist hacking depicted in the USA film "Die Hard 4", warning that China's role in global trade and internet connectivity opened it to increased risks from overseas.

The Finnish computer security firm F-Secure called the problem spreading around the world "the biggest ransomware outbreak in history". He added, "Ransomware is a programme that gets into your computer only by downloading and it will ask you to pay ransom in Bitcoins".

"The recent global ransomware attack exploiting a flaw in Windows, while serious, not only demonstrates the continued ubiquity of Microsoft, but also highlights that numerous affected enterprises or entities that are still using older, and now unsupported, versions of Windows need to accelerate their plans to upgrade to Windows 10", analyst Michael Nemeroff wrote in a note to clients Monday entitled "If you're not current, you're toast". EternalBlue and DoublePulsar, two tools the NSA used to infiltrate computer networks, were stolen from the agency and leaked online in April as part of a massive data dump by the Shadow Brokers hacker group.

Other computers potentially at risk are those that have not been receiving regular software updates known as "patches" that Microsoft distributes regularly via Internet. WannaCry is believed to be using the same software. In the UK's National Health Service, which was particularly badly hit, at least 47 organisations were affected.

FedEx, French automaker Renault and Spanish telecommunications firm Telefonica are among those attacked. On Friday, it reported 16 computer networks were shut down.

Microsoft released security patches for the ransomware on Friday.

WannaCry rightly scared the general public, but the ransomware shows signs of being produced by amateurs and thus is easily combatted - a 22-year-old discovered a "kill switch" in the program, an easy solution to the growing problem. (Whether or not you see this as a good and necessary thing likely has a lot to do with your opinion of whether the NSA too often prioritizes its ability to hurt adversaries over the privacy and safety of US citizens or over the privacy and safety of people in general). Even though Microsoft no longer provides updates for Windows XP, it is still widely used in Europe and Asia. "Take periodic backups on to external Hard Disk Drives". For the users on newer versions such as Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, then you should have received a patch back in March. Security patches would be available for clients with older machines, but only if they paid for custom support agreements.

Keep your computer up to date. "You've got to keep your systems updated".

"This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem", Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said in a blog post on Sunday, comparing the recent leaks of NSA and Central Intelligence Agency hacking tools to, in the real world, the theft of cruise missiles.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation also called for more visibility into the government's use of security flaws, saying Wanna Cry "points to the need for transparency into and reform of how the government handles software vulnerabilities it retains".


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