Vernick said businesses that failed to update their software could face scrutiny from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which has previously sued companies for misrepresenting their data privacy measures. The WannaCry infection does not affect those using Macintosh computers.
But unlike most ransomware, WannaCry has no process to uniquely identify which ransom payment is tied to which computer, Horowitz said. Some have already found new variants of ransomware similar to WannaCry but there is no proof that any system has been affected with the new variants so far.
Following the flurry of reports of the attack, the chief of global and legal affairs at Iran's Cyber Police warned that the "ransomware", which has affected countless computer systems worldwide, has done the same to some systems inside the country.
Researchers believe the attack is the work of a richly funded criminal organization, given the nature of sophistication it involves.
Ransomware is not a new invention.
He highlighted that the government had invested £50 million in supporting NHS IT networks during its last strategic defense and security review, and insisted that individual trusts were well-equipped to ensure they could protect themselves against cyber-attack. It leveraged an exploit - a tool created to take advantage of a security hole - leaked in a batch of hacking tools believed to belong to the NSA.
On March 14, Microsoft patched the flaw, which could be exploited by an NSA tool called EternalBlue, in its supported Windows systems. It took advantage of a vulnerability in Windows that allowed it to infect PCs.
Third, don't be complacent with the usual ways that malware spreads. Russia, Ukraine, India, and Taiwan are reportedly the most affected by number of attacks. You can see how many computers have been infected here.
Researchers are struggling to try to find early traces of WannaCry, which remains an active threat in hardest-hit China and Russian Federation, believing that identifying "patient zero" could help catch its criminal authors. On Friday, it reported 16 computer networks were shut down. Numerous hospitals were forced to turn away emergency patients and stopped carrying out certain procedures due to the infection. In fact, McAfee, a popular anti-virus software, reported almost 250,000 new, individual and unique types of ransomware in the first quarter of 2013.
Is the threat still out there?
He spotted that the malware was sending a message to a web address which wasn't registered. But this is only a temporary fix, as the software can be modified to check a different domain. But WannaCry has pushed the issue into the mainstream.
Older Windows versions can also be infected. The company is crunching data to arrive at a firmer estimate it aims to release later Thursday.
Reports say new variants of WannaCrypt have appeared that do not have this kill switch.
If you have a recent backup, restore from it: Ransomware is worthless to a hacker if a user has a backup.
Ransomware is a sophisticated piece of malware that blocks the victim's access to his/her files, and the only way to regain access to the files is to pay a ransom. Microsoft, like other vendors whose vulnerabilities were in that NSA data dump, moved quickly to verify the defect and offer a patch. If you do not have patch management solutions or other vehicles to deploy the patch, I would resort to manually installing the patch on critical systems first and then progress throughout the environment.
Always practice net safety. But is the public sector really any worse than the private sector at keeping its IT security up to date and avoiding cybercrime? Several security holes are fixed before they can be exploited.
It's easy to say everyone should be vigilant, install every patch released and, preferably, never miss an operating system update.
While it's unclear what the level of insurance losses from the WannaCry ransomware will be, the attack shows the changing aggregation risk that insurers face, where one incident leads to losses from multiple policyholders, said Pascal Millaire, vice president and general manager of cyber insurance at Symantec Corp., the San Francisco-based technology security company.
"Simply by threatening another leak after leaking two sets of Microsoft exploits, Shadow Brokers will ratchet up the hostility between Microsoft and the government", Wheeler wrote.
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