Cyber chaos may grow at workweek's start

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Cyber chaos may grow at workweek's start

Organizations and networks worldwide have since Friday been dealing with the fallout of massive ransomware attack that exploited a hole in PCs running Microsoft Windows that haven't been updated.

The effects were felt across the globe, with Russia's Interior Ministry and companies including Spain's Telefonica, FedEx Corp.in the US and French carmaker Renault all reporting disruptions.

Railway stations, post delivery, petrol stations, hospitals, office buildings, shopping centres and government services also were affected, Xinhua said, citing the Threat Intelligence Centre of Qihoo 360, a Chinese internet security services company. The company said the virus has been localized and "technical work is underway to destroy it and update the antivirus protection".

"Even if a fresh attack does not materialise on Monday, we should expect it soon afterwards", she said.

The warning was echoed by Britain's National Cyber Security Centre: "As a new working week begins it is likely, in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, that further cases of ransomware may come to light, possibly at a significant scale". Ransom demands start at US$300 and doubles after three days.

Bitcoin, the world's most-used virtual currency, allows anonymous transactions via heavily encrypted codes.

The attack was disrupting computers that run factories, banks, government agencies and transport systems in Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, Spain, India and Japan, among others.

Backing up data, Symantec adds, "is the single most effect way of combating ransomware infection".

WannaCry takes advantage of a Windows flaw discovered by the NSA and made public by hackers in April.

Referring to the attack as a "wake-up call", Microsoft's President and Chief Legal Officer, Brad Smith wrote in a blog post that governments have "to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits".

Responding to the incident, the company's president and chief legal officer, Brad Smith, criticized the US government's weaponizing of computer vulnerabilities, the leak of which enabled this attack, and the dangers of not informing tech companies about them. He even likened the incident to several missiles getting stolen from the U.S. military and keeping quiet about it.

"The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call", Smith wrote while also noting how "cybersecurity has become a shared responsibility between tech companies and customers". The Telegraph suggested that 90 percent of NHS trusts were using a 16 year old version of Windows XP which was particularly vulnerable to the attack. The attack spreads by multiple methods, including phishing emails and on unpatched systems as a computer worm.

"There are other criminals who've launched this attack, and they are ultimately responsible for this", he said from his home in Oxford, England.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) had said yesterday that a few systems of the Police Department in Andhra Pradesh were impacted and that the state government has been informed to follow the advisory by the CERT-In.

French carmaker Renault was forced to stop production at sites in France, Slovenia and Romania, while FedEx said it was "implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible".

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