Six ways to prevent WannaCry ransomware attack

Fernando Stephens
May 20, 2017

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 US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen.

Security experts say the unprecedented ransomeware attack that on Friday locked up computers across the globe including United Kingdom hospital, FedEx, train systems in Germany among other institutions in exchange for payment, could cause even more trouble as the work week begins. Several British hospitals say they are having major computer problems Hospitals in London, northwest England and other parts of the country are reporting problems with their computer systems as the result of an apparent cyberattack, Friday May 12, 2017. "We need governments to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits". Microsoft had issued a patch on March 14, but many computers hadn't run the update.

There are different variants of what happens: Other forms of ransomware execute programs that can lock your computer entirely, only showing a message to make payment in order to log in again. "There's no waving that away".

The government is not legally bound to notify at-risk companies. The VEP was established to determine whether the government should withhold or disclose information about computer software security vulnerabilities.

Apple's Mac computers were not targeted by this ransomware attack so are clear.

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WannaCrypt connects to the domain in question to see if it is up. This will help you to prevent this ransomware from spreading. However, as of this morning, there haven't been any signs of widespread renewed activity. Shadow Brokers said that they obtained it from a secret NSA server.

Many companies are of course reluctant to deploy patches without extensive testing, something which Microsoft understood, but Smith noted that Microsoft used "robust testing and analytics to enable rapid updates into IT infrastructure".

WannaCry uses a vulnerability in old versions of Windows that was originally discovered and exploited by the U.S. National Security Agency as an offensive cyber-weapon.

While the NHS could have been more responsible, the root of the virus links back to the NSA for failing to report software vulnerabilities to companies so they can be fixed, especially the "Eternal Blue", which was stolen by the hackers responsible for Friday's attack.

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

Other reports by BadHub

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