Sci-tech

Things to Know About the 'WannaCry' Ransomware Attack

Things to Know About the 'WannaCry' Ransomware Attack

Officials at Thariyode panchayat office in Wayanad found on Monday that four of their computers have been hacked. "The difference this time is that the virus attack is getting publicity".

"Whether or not you think the US government should be spending a fortune developing such cyber-weapons, surely it is obvious that the weapons they develop should be properly secured", said Phillip Hallam-Baker, principal scientist for New Jersey-based cybersecurity firm Comodo, in an emailed statement.

"There are so many states that have been affected".

India is on high alert, monitoring critical networks across sectors like banking, telecom, power and aviation to ensure that systems are protected against possible cyberattack on its vital networks by the crippling global ransomware, 'WannaCry'.

With the previous reports, there were predictions of ATMs to be affected.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in a statement said it has activated a "preparedness and response mechanism" by instructing CERT-In to gather information on this attack. It essentially relies on victims clicking on or downloading the attachment, which causes the program to run and infect your computer with ransomware. Companies including Hitachi and Nissan Motor Co. reported problems but said they said had not seriously affected their business operations.

According to press reports, the malicious software was first spotted in Russian Federation but rapidly spread across the globe in what might turn out to be an attack of unprecedented scale.

Ransomware attacks are some of the most immediately damaging forms of cyber-attacks that affect home users, enterprises and governments equally. In addition, Microsoft also took the very unique step of recently releasing security updates to address the vulnerability for Windows XP and Server 2003, even though they are both years past their Extended Support lifetimes.

The programme was designed in such a manner that when it lands on a system it locks up all files and encrypts them in a way that one can not access them anymore, until a ransom amount of $300 Bitcoin is paid-which defines the word ransomware.

Europol has been analysing the virus and was yet to identify the hacking group behind the massive attacks.

The attackers took advantage of a known flaw in Windows XP, the operating system that is still used by millions of PC users and machines across the globe.

In the US, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said in a blog post that the cyber attack should be treated by governments as a "wake-up call".

"We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the USA military intelligence organisation National Security Agency (NSA) has affected customers around the world", Smith wrote. "An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen".

Once the computer's data has been encrypted, or locked down, a message would appear saying that the users' files are no longer accessible.

The investigators were still trying to identify the hackers who initiated this.


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