Ransomware attack puts renewed focus on cybersecurity

Ransomware

The State Bank of India, the largest consumer bank of India also denied any compromise in its ATMs. The actors behind the attack, which have yet to be identified, then asked the victims for ransom money to "free" the infected computers. A security researcher in the United Kingdom who goes by the handle MalwareTech found that when the WannaCry malware is starting up, it searches for an oddly named domain on the internet. Activating the domain worked as a kill switch for the malware.

New variants of the rapidly replicating malware were discovered Sunday.

A month after Microsoft issued the security patch, the Shadow Brokers published the code for the NSA-crafted attack known as EternalBlue. In WannaCry's case, the code had been stolen and had fallen into the hands of criminal actors.

Smith is right that this incident is comparable to the USA military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen.

Smith also said that the governments of the world should treat the attack as a wake-up call: "They need to take a different approach and adhere in cyberspace to the same rules applied to weapons in the physical world". He notes that in February Microsoft called for a new "Digital Geneva Convention" to address these issues, "including a new requirement for governments to report vulnerabilities to vendors, rather than stockpile, sell, or exploit them".

The question is, are we ready to completely rely on digital systems?

Many pieces of digital equipment - like the MRI scanners used by the United Kingdom's National Health Service, which run Windows XP - can not be upgraded as easily as a PC.

The malicious software hit tens of thousands of systems in hospitals, schools, vehicle factories, shops and more, locking computers worldwide with an unprecedented global reach.

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However, just because the initial attacks may be ending, that doesn't mean it's all clear.

Given this and the current weaknesses of cybersecurity measures, should national healthcare systems rethink their reliance on computer systems, and come up with standardized emergency operational procedures that's less computer-reliant? Recovery from backups is one of them. As the scare is big, the e-Governance Department has shut several government websites that had been given direct IP access or has temporarily closed some access to certain sites till the "patching" is completed to prevent attacks. Vendors, such as Microsoft, release security patches from time to time. "Following this, Microsoft had sent patches in its update in March itself to counter this particular form of threats", Udhav told TNM.

However, not everyone downloaded and implemented the patch, contributing to the fast spread of the malware.

Vulnerabilities like the one used in the WannaCry ransomware are the result of human error when developing an operating system.

The malware targets the outdated or legacy computer systems that run on old versions of Microsoft operating systems (OS). However, the latest version has one advantage: it infects other computers using an existing vulnerability in Windows' SMB portal. The company had already been supporting it longer than it normally would have because so many customers still used it and the effort was proving costly.

Netsafe's director of outreach Sean Lyons said scammers often used issues reported in the media because they knew people were likely to be anxious and let their guard down.

"There's a lot of older Windows products out there that are "end of life" and nobody's bothered to take them out of service", said Cynthia Larose, a cybersecurity expert at the law firm of Mintz Levin.

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at a Helsinki-based cyber security company called F-Secure, told news agency AFP that Russian Federation and India were hit particularly hard, largely because Microsoft's Windows XP - one of the operating systems most at risk - was still widely used in the countries.

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