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WannaCry Ransomware Attack Could Spark Lawsuits - But Not Against Microsoft

20 Mai 2017

They identify three main sources: the NSA, which developed a number of digital espionage capabilities; a second cluster of unidentified hackers who are working to "weaponise" those tools; and a third group who added the ransomware that demands a fee for unlocking infected computers.

The episode underscores the folly of the US law enforcement demand that tech companies install backdoors into their devices and services.

The tools behind the attack originated within the NSA.

Computers booting up to start the workweek might continue the spread of "WannaCry", a ransomware attack where hackers lock down a computer and threaten to delete all its data unless a ransom is paid.

Because of the way WannaCry spreads sneakily inside organisation networks, a far larger total of ransomed computers sitting behind company firewalls may be hit, possibly numbering upward of a million machines.

The spread of the virus slowed over the weekend but the respite might only be brief, experts have warned.

Cyber-security is a game of cat and mouse, with criminals always thinking of new ways to attack systems, so no organisation is totally impenetrable.

Microsoft said it had taken the "highly unusual step" of releasing a patch for computers running older operating systems including Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003.

A hacker group - known as Shadow Brokers - obtained an arsenal of cyber warfare tools in April from the NSA, of which the USA agency called "Eternal Blue".

In a blog post aimed to address the "WannaCry" ransomware attack, Microsoft explained that the exploit originated from a list of attacks "hoarded" by the US National Security Agency.

But the NSA's role in the creation of WannaCry has been misunderstood: The intelligence agency did not actually create WannaCry, but played an inadvertent role in midwifing the bug. In his blog post, Smith compared the NSA hack to "the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen". Businesses in China had systems hijacked, Russia's interior ministry had 1,000 computers affected and at least one South Korean movie theater had issues playing trailers.

Instead, organisations such as the NSA should disclose computer vulnerabilities to their manufacturers, Microsoft argues.

Some major technology companies, including Alphabet Inc's Google and Facebook Inc, declined comment on the Microsoft statement.

Smith made this call in February for an worldwide convention on the use of cyberwarfare similar to the Geneva Convention rules governing war and protections of noncombatants.

How did the NSA plan to use Eternalblue in the first place is a good question. And those fixes will do nothing for newer systems if they aren't installed. The share of Windows 7, released in 2009, is 48.5 percent, and 7 percent of the world's internet-connected computers still use 16-year-old Windows XP. Microsoft will try to wean customers off older operating systems so that it can move them to more advanced ones, reduce its overheads supporting vintage models, and maintain its revenue streams. The most disruptive attacks infected Britain's National Health Service. Those people "are at risk - they're probably not getting updates", he said. For the German railroads, too, switching all the ticket terminals to Windows 10 is not exactly a priority.

Be resource-sensitive and use techniques like compression and de-duplication to save network bandwidth and storage space. Intelligence agencies should be legally required to give up any cyberweapons that don't specifically target the military capabilities of adversary states. WannaCry is believed to be using the same software. While this is usually seen as a standard police issue, or for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to deal with, Rogers said ransomware was something that could become a military concern.

Rory Byrne, CEO and co-founder of Security First, and security analyst Amin Sabeti recently wrote of the attack for Advocacy Assembly, echoing this sentiment.

WannaCry Ransomware Attack Could Spark Lawsuits - But Not Against Microsoft