The world has just experienced it biggest cyber-attack Friday. Encrypt your backup and you won't have to worry about the backup device falling into the wrong hands. Sadly, it didn't take long for the WannaCry author to modify the code and release an updated version which no longer listens to the kill-switch domain.
"That's what makes this more troubling than ransomware was a week ago", Thakur said. Don't click on links that you don't recognize, or download files from people you don't know personally.
"Looking at the trends, it was going to happen", he said.
This renders the files inaccessible.
The BBC broadcast a screen-shot of a message apparently sent to the National Health Service medical facilities demanding payments for unlocking computer files that had been "encrypted" by the attack.
"They're holding your stuff ransom", Staats said. The culprit is called the "EternalBlue" exploit and it's a tool that takes advantage of previously unknown vulnerabilities in certain older versions of Microsoft Windows operating systems, such as Windows XP. The virus has also impacted computers running Windows Vista and Windows 7 whose owners had blocked the security updates.
"When any technique is shown to be effective, there are nearly always copycats", said Steve Grobman, chief technology officer of McAfee, a security company in Santa Clara, California.
Hackers find vulnerabilities in operating systems and try to exploit those vulnerabilities by tricking users into downloading malware or malicious code.
It's not the first time hackers have used the leaked NSA tools to infect computers. He compared it to stolen missiles being used against the military.
Europol's European Cybercrime Centre, EC3, said in a statement today that the attack was "at an unprecedented level and will require a complex worldwide investigation to identify the culprits".
"They don't seem to be vulnerable to that", Staats said.
Bank officials, however advised customers to avoid online transactions till further notice due to uncertainty over the impact of ransomware on internet banking.
Has it affected anyone in the Illinois Valley? "The U.S. didn't get hit as hard".
Smith was clear that his company holds the NSA responsible for the efficacy of WannaCry's infection vector. "There is this stream of liability that flows from the ransomware attack", he said. "We made sure this weekend all our machines were patched". The company rates the update as "critical" for supported Windows releases.
The Federal Trade Commission's website even advises to never open an attachment - even from a trusted sender - unless the attachment is expected. As a result - they could implode at anytime and see themselves turn into yet another company that did too little too late. Paying the requested ransom (anywhere between a few hundred to a few thousand dollars) theoretically leads to the ransomware decrypting your data, but there is no guarantee.
Knowing this was a ransomworm, rather than a normal ransomware, I turned to one of the experts on malware that can spread across Windows networks, Roi Abutbul.
Staats admitted he's been fooled into answering fraudulent emails and said there is no reason to be embarrassed about being tricked into installing a virus and getting help quickly.
"We're looking at many decades of building complex systems - one on top of the other - with no effort to go back to fix what we did wrong along the way", said Wendy Nather, principal security strategist at Duo Security, who has worked in security for 22 years.