'Unfortunately, most people don't have them, ' Mr Abrams says.
What are companies doing to mitigate the attack? It must, however, be noted that this programme could only hack into computers dependent on the Microsoft Windows operating system. Among infected victims are a large number of workstations at UK National Health Service (NHS) hospitals. "There is this stream of liability that flows from the ransomware attack", he said. The NHS said in a statement on Saturday that there was no evidence that patient information had been compromised.
Other reported victims include Spanish multinational broadband and telecommunications provider Telefonica, American multinational courier delivery services company FedEx and universities in China.
"And this most recent attack represents a completely unintended but disconcerting link between the two most serious forms of cyber security threats in the world today - nation-state action and organised criminal action".
Version 1.0 of this ransomware was discovered by Malwarebytes researcher S!Ri on February 10.
Microsoft has faced criticism since 2014 for withdrawing support for older versions of Windows software such as 16-year-old Windows XP and requiring users to pay hefty annual fees instead.
Security experts say many organisations don't install security upgrades because they're anxious about triggering bugs, or they can't afford the downtime. The victim has 3 days to pay before the ransom doubles. And while this attack was aimed at Microsoft software, concerns loom over whether this attack could also affect Apple computers.
It has been reported that a new ransomware "WannaCry" is spreading widely, RBI advisory to the banks said.
"This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem", Smith wrote.
13AM4VW2dhxYgXeQepoHkHSQuy6NgaEb94 had 47 transactions worth over 6.7 bitcoins, or ~US$12,000.
Experts say this vulnerability has been understood among experts for months, yet too many groups failed to take it seriously.
It is still not likely the technique will help many people, particularly because it works only if their machines have not been rebooted. "Most folks that have paid up appear to have paid the initial $300 in the first few hours". Microsoft's website tells you where to look to verify what version you have.
The cyberattack that spread malicious software around the world, shutting down networks at hospitals, banks and government agencies, was stemmed by a young British researcher and an low-priced domain registration, with help from another 20-something security engineer in the U.S. A chart on their website shows that over 70 percent of the outbreak's victims, as discovered by their team, are in Russian Federation, with another five percent in Ukraine. That way even if you're hit with ransomware you've got all your files protected elsewhere. The most disruptive attacks were reported in the United Kingdom, where hospitals and clinics were forced to turn away patients after losing access to computers.
Smith's blog post is somewhat utopian, as the Microsoft exec ignores the fact that creating cyber-weapons is the NSA and CIA's job, as their primary goal is to defend the nation's interests, just like Chinese and Russian cyber-spooks do the same for their nations. If WannaCry strikes there, it could lock up files with electronic healthcare records.
The 22-year-old researcher known as "MalwareTech", who wanted to remain anonymous, said he spotted a hidden web address in the "WannaCry" code and made it official by registering its domain name.
It is possible to remove WannaCry from your computer once it is there - although the process is not straightforward.
Researchers who helped prevent the spread of the malware and cybersecurity firms worked around the clock during the weekend to monitor the situation and install a software patch to block the worm from infecting computers in corporations across the U.S., Europe and Asia. "It creates a mutex (mutual exclusion algorithm) on the computer that prevents the execution of the malicious code WannaCry 2.0.", the organization explained.
So, all in all, you should be OK as long as you update your OS and aren't running an ancient version of Windows.