WannaCry virus primarily targeted Windows 7 computers

Ransomware

It comes as the former United States national intelligence director said the global "ransomware" attack could grow much larger when people return to work.

The company said it had released a security update back in March to protect Windows system computers against such attacks, but said many computers "remained unpatched globally". The ransomware, also known as "WannaCry" demands $300 in Bitcoin to unlock encrypted files and threatens users to permanently delete them for failure of payments.

The crippling ransomware, which has ripped through 150 countries and already affected some 200,000 computers - including critical NHS systems - is a "wake up call", the technology giant warned.

Exploits in the hands of governments have repeatedly leaked into the public domain and caused widespread damage, wrote Smith, who compared the leaks of Central Intelligence Agency and NSA vulnerabilities to the USA military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen.

Smith argued that in cyberspace, governments should apply rules like those regarding weapons in the physical world.

"We need governments to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits", Microsoft concluded.

Edward Snowden, the whistleblower and former NSA analyst living in exile in Russian Federation, is a longtime critic of the agency stockpiling vulnerabilities.

The government is not legally bound to notify at-risk companies.

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Experts said India is vulnerable as a large number of computers in the country run the Microsoft's older operating systems like XP, and have not been updated yet.

The cyber criminals, whose identities are still unknown, also rebounded from the kill switch activation by releasing a second variation of the malware.

He said, "We take every single cyberattack on a Windows system seriously, and we've been working around the clock since Friday to help all our customers who have been affected by this incident". However, as of this morning, there haven't been any signs of widespread renewed activity.

Darien Huss, a 28-year-old research engineer who assisted the anonymous British researcher lauded a hero, said he was "still anxious for what's to come in the next few days because it really would not be so hard for the actors behind this to re-release their code without a kill switch or with a better kill switch".

The virus exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows software, first identified by the US National Security Agency. Microsoft's Smith believes this is the main reason why the WannaCry ransomware so effectively reached a global impact.

The WannaCrypt ransomware spread to devastating effect last week using worm -like capabilities that relied on a recently patched vulnerability in Microsoft's SMB file-sharing services (MS17-010).

"As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, there is simply no way for customers to protect themselves against threats unless they update their systems", Smith wrote.

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