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US security agency should take some blame for ransomware attack: Chinese media

18 May 2017

The attack held users hostage by freezing their computers, popping up a red screen with the words, "Oops, your files have been encrypted!" and demanding money through online bitcoin payment - $300 at first, rising to $600 before it destroys files hours later.

Editor's note: Are you affected by the attack? Some security researchers speculated that if the perpetrators were North Korean, the goal may have been to cause a widespread internet outage to coincide with this weekend's latest missile test.

Because it's possible for the perpetrators to alter the code to use a different domain, MalwareTech and others warned the ransomware could continue spreading. "You never know that they're going to do what they promise anyway", Wainwright said. Another security company, Symantec, related the same findings, which it characterized as intriguing but "weak" associations, since the code could have been copied from the Lazarus malware.

Security firm Digital Shadows said on Sunday that transactions totalling US$32,000 had taken place through Bitcoin addresses used by the ransomware.

The agency and its partners in the global security community are now in a "sort of cat-and-mouse" competition with hackers, as variants of the software that foil previous solutions emerge, the official says.

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An global manhunt was under way for the plotters behind the world's biggest-ever computer ransom assault which has affected more than 150 countries. "I think today we found out that those who really want to hurt us have begun to, because they became cyber-capable the moment that the NSA cybertools were released".

Chinese state media said 29,372 institutions there had been infected along with hundreds of thousands of devices.

WannaCry is a type of malware known as ransomware. So far, not many people have paid the ransom demanded by the malware, Europol spokesman Jan Op Gen Oorth told The Associated Press. "An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the USA military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen".

In this context it's perhaps worth remembering that previous year Apple came under tremendous pressure to create a special version of iOS for the US government, under the promise that it would never escape their safe hands and get into the wild.

Two "accidental heroes" halted the attack by registering a domain name hidden in the malware.

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Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith blamed the NSA's practice of developing hacking methods to use against the USA government's own enemies. Even if we teach theory, they (ethical hackers) need hands-on-training, and it's very minimal.

Cybersecurity experts say the worm affects computers using Microsoft operating systems and takes advantage of a vulnerability in the software to spread the infection.

In addition to Microsoft's Security Bulletin MS17-010 that patched the vulnerability in March, the company also issued a separate patch on Friday for users of older and unsupported operating systems such as Windows XP.

If you're not on a work network that already has security, consider installing some form of security program on your computer.

Beware of unknown emails, especially if there are attachments or links.

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