Log in, look out: Cyber chaos may grow at workweek's start

Log in, look out: Cyber chaos may grow at workweek's start

Log in, look out: Cyber chaos may grow at workweek's start

"I am anxious about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn [on] their machines", Rob Wainwright, director of the European investigative agency Europol, told NBC News' U.K. partner ITV on Sunday.

On affected computers, the WannaCry software encrypts files and displays a ransom message demanding $300 in bitcoin.

Writing on the company's website, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer Brad Smith gave a post-mortem of last Friday's "WannaCrypt" cyber-attack, which spread across the world thanks to a database of exploits stolen from the US' National Security Agency (NSA).

The warning echoed that from Europe's policing agency earlier Sunday. The software is normally contained within an attachment to an email that masquerades as something innocent through phishing emails, malicious adverts on websites and questionable apps and programs.

Once inside an organization, WannaCry uses a Windows vulnerability purportedly identified by the NSA and later leaked to the internet.

The organization predicts that the problem could be "at a significant scale" because some infected machines haven't yet been detected, and existing infections can spread within networks.

"Since the global coordinated ransomware attack on thousands of private and public sector organisations across dozens of countries on Friday, there have been no sustained new attacks of that kind", the NCSC said.

Install anti-virus in your computers.

Infected computers appear to largely be out-of-date devices that organizations deemed not worth the price of upgrading or, in some cases, machines involved in manufacturing or hospital functions that proved too hard to patch without possibly disrupting crucial operations, security experts said. Russia's health ministry said its attacks were "effectively repelled".

Spanish firm Telefonica, French automaker Renault, the US -based delivery service FedEx and the German railway Deutsche Bahn were among those affected.

He said most people "are living an online life", and these agencies have a duty to protect their countries' citizens in that realm as well.

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Europol's Wainwright underscored the point Sunday. For more detailed information about the Windows vulnerability and how to resolve it, see Microsoft Security Bulletin MS17-010 - Critical.

"Looking at the trends, it was going to happen", he said.

"Hundreds of thousands" of Chinese computers at almost 30,000 institutions including government agencies have been hit by the global ransomware attack, a leading Chinese security-software provider has said, though the Asian impact has otherwise been relatively muted. In what some are calling an unusual step, Microsoft announced that it would roll out updates to users of older operating systems "that no longer receive mainstream support", such as Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003.

The patches won't do any good for machines that have already been hit. "Obviously, they want those tools in order to spy on people of interest, on other countries, to conduct surveillance", Cluley said.

"We've seen the rise of ransomware becoming the principal threat, I think, but this is something we haven't seen before - the global reach is unprecedented", Wainwright said.

Sixteen National Health Service (NHS) organizations in the United Kingdom have been hit, and some of those hospitals have canceled outpatient appointments and told people to avoid emergency departments if possible.

He also suggested to update the systems as soon as possible in twitter.

How To Protect Yourself From WannaCry Ransomware? "We need governments to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits", Smith said.

Worse, the malware was able to create so much chaos because it was designed to self-replicate like a virus, spreading quickly once inside university, business and government networks. More than 200,000 computers have been affected so far.

Officials and experts on Sunday urged organizations and companies to update their operating systems immediately to ensure they aren't vulnerable to a second, more powerful version of the software — or to future versions that can't be stopped.

Consumers who have up-to-date software are protected from this ransomware.

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