NSA warned Microsoft about vulnerability connected to 'Wanna Cry'

Being cautious of malicious email attachments: While it's uncertain whether WannaCry leverages phishing to gain a foothold on target machines, many ransomware attacks use phishing emails that contain a malicious link or attachment that will infect your machine. In Great Britain alone, 16 National Health Service hospitals were hit.

Fortunately, there was some good news in the midst of all this when a 22-year-old cyber security researcher, identified online only as MalwareTech, unintentionally discovered a "kill switch" that halted the unprecedented outbreak, something that may have saved companies and governments millions of dollars, slowing the outbreak before computers were more widely affected.

What is WannaCry ransomware?

WannaCry's worm-like capacity to infect other computers on the same network with no human intervention appear tailored to Windows 7, said Paul Pratley, head of investigations & incident response at United Kingdom consulting firm MWR InfoSecurity. Victims were given the option of paying from $300 to $600 to avoid having their computers shut down by the attack. After seven days, your files are permanently locked.

The WannaCry attacks generated some $50,000 in Bitcoin ransom payments according to reports earlier this week, and the virus may linger in computer systems for quite a while.

While now on the decline, WannaCrypt could still pose a potential threat to users who have not updated their systems to patch the vulnerability, which affects older versions of Microsoft Windows.

The ACLU, meanwhile, urged Congress to pass a law requiring the government to disclose vulnerabilities to companies "in a timely manner", so that they can patch them as soon as possible.

The WannaCry ransomware has already infected hundreds of thousands of Windows computers across the world, and as the world is recovering from fiasco, security experts are also looking into what caused so many systems to be compromised so fast.

On top of that, the NSA would likely be able to claim that it is shielded from liability under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, which says that the government can not be sued over carrying out its official duties. In April 2017, the EternalBlue exploit was exposed as part of the group's ongoing activities. That attack is believed to be larger in scale than WannaCry, according to security firm Proofpoint.

Perhaps the most frightening statistic that Trend Micro found was that in one in five cases, even when the company paid the ransom, they were unable to recover their important files - indicating that the ransomware service is not quite as robust as it should be.

If you've figured out that you are susceptible, the first thing you should do is calm down. "Software updates and security patches are pushed to us as needed so that we are using the most current approved versions of software on our computers".

Before you breathe a sigh of relief, take this opportunity to back-up your data! Once there, the virus can spread to other systems more easily. Secondly, you should probably start backing up all your sensitive data on an immediate basis, so even if the ransomware has attacked your computer, your data will be saved. This won't be the last massive cyber attack and, while there is no way to guarantee that you'll be safe, there are some pretty easy ways to minimize the risk to yourself and others.

However, a bug in WannaCry code means the attackers can not use unique bitcoin addresses to track payments, security researchers at Symantec found this week. In business terms, just what is the best way to view stealing secrets? "Remarkably few payments had so far been made in response to this attack". Although there is no such security measure which would ensure the retrieval of your file, one should report the incidents to law enforcement in order to keep a record and then ask for help from professionals who deal with data recovery. Despite the widespread panic that has ensued, it's important to stay calm.

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