States of Jersey 'remain unaffected' by global cyber attack

WannaCry seems to have attacked computers in Russian Federation first, after which the ransomware quickly spread to as much as 150 + countries and affected Microsoft computers.

The WannaCry virus targets Microsoft's widely used Windows operating system.

On Friday, Microsoft took what the software vendor itself called the "highly unusual step of providing a security update for all customers to protect Windows platforms that are in custom support only, including Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003". It was a masterclass in pursuing Microsoft's interests while invoking a noble mission.

But there was some truth: the incident shows that governments are keener on attacking enemies than defending their citizens, who are bad at it themselves. Many of those caught unaware were still running Windows XP, an ageing version dating back to 2001.

To a large degree, it worked. However, a partial blame should also be directed towards thousands of organizations and millions of computer users who continue to run obsolete operating systems that have not received security updates for the longest time.

The attackers download malicious software onto a device and then use it to encrypt the victim's information. So, people should make sure they have an active such software. There is always the temptation to let things remain as they are.

It is far from over as newer versions of the WannaCry ransomware is spreading.

First, and foremost, you should backup your data immediately because in case there is another ransomware attack like this, you will have a contingency plan of your own in place.

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It may be arduous to stick with old versions of software, but it is much more painful when machines stop working. It is everyone's public duty to carry on refreshing Windows software, in other words. It would be a good idea to buy Microsoft shares right about now.

Although the USA appears to have dodged a bullet, at least for now, going forward Riggi asserts that overall the healthcare industry is particularly vulnerable to ransomware and is a high-priority target for cybercriminals because of the high value of health data.

Microsoft is now warning that the government practice of "stockpiling" software vulnerabilities so that they can be used as weapons is a misguided tactic that weakens security for everybody. The computers would operate normally, but the miner would also run in the background. How did it spread so fast? This and other tools leaked after an NSA contractor was arrested previous year for stealing data.

A hacking group called Shadow Brokers released the malware in April claiming to have discovered the flaw from the NSA, according to Kaspersky Lab, a Russian cybersecurity provider.

Government agencies criticized over malware stash.

It is a one-sided contest.

John Riggi, former FBI Section Chief for the Cyber Division Outreach Section and now head of services firm BDO's Cybersecurity and Financial Crimes Unit, believes that because the WannaCry ransomware started out in Europe and spread to the rest of the world-including Asia-the sequence of attacks in other countries worked to the advantage of US organizations. As James Andrew Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies says drily, that would be "very hard to negotiate".

The clear advantage for Microsoft is it was prepared for what happened.

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