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Worldwide ransomware cyberattacks: What we know

19 May 2017

The latest virus attack last week exploits a flaw in a version of Microsoft Windows first identified by U.S. intelligence.

Smith's blog post did not address another factor in the ransomware's spread, one that hints at the difficulty of uniting against a hacking attack: Users of pirated Microsoft software are unable to download the security patch, forcing them to fend for themselves or rely on a third-party source for a solution.

Organizations and networks worldwide have since Friday been dealing with the fallout of massive ransomware attack that exploited a hole in PCs running Microsoft Windows that haven't been updated.

Over the weekend, a cyber attack the likes of which the world has never seen held important data, pictures, and information hostage demanding Bitcoin ransom payments from anxious users everywhere. To decode them, hackers demanded $300 in ransom, then the amount would double after three days.

A global ransomware attack hit thousands of Windows-based computers late last week, locking users' files and demanding Bitcoin payment to unlock them.

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"More action is needed, and it's needed now", he said.

"It's hard to feel like a hero, I think, because I just documented my analysis", said Huss. Wainwright said Europol did not know the motive.

In England, 48 National Health Service (NHS) trusts reported problems at hospitals, doctor surgeries or pharmacies, and 13 NHS organizations in Scotland were also affected.

The U.S. government clearly had its priorities wrong in not focusing on better protecting these cyberweapons, he said.

Concerns over India also being hit by the ransomware has led to public and private agencies working overtime to firewall their systems from any possible attack.

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Had it not been for a young cybersecurity researcher's accidental discovery of a so-called "kill switch", the malicious software likely would have spread much farther and faster. Many may click infected email attachments or bad links and spread the virus further.

Microsoft stopped issuing global patches for XP in April 2014, though it does still provide essentially security updates for the OS to companies who stump up extra cash for the privilege. A large cyberattack crippled computer systems at hospitals across England on Friday, with appointments canceled, phone lines down and patients turned away.

Companies have been hiring experts to work around the clock to prevent new infections. That low-cost move redirected the attacks to the server of Kryptos Logic, the security company he works for.

Russia's Interior Ministry acknowledged a ransomware attack on its computers.

The FBI and NSA have begun efforts to identify the threat actors responsible for the ransomware attack, the official added.

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Worldwide ransomware cyberattacks: What we know