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Microsoft warns governments the latest global cyber-attack is a “wake-up call”

Monday, May 15th 2017 - 07:28 UTC
Full article 2 comments
The virus took control of users' files and demanded US$300 payments to restore access. The virus spread slowed over the weekend but it might only be brief The virus took control of users' files and demanded US$300 payments to restore access. The virus spread slowed over the weekend but it might only be brief
Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith on Sunday criticized the way governments store up information about security flaws in computer systems. Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith on Sunday criticized the way governments store up information about security flaws in computer systems.
”We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world. ”We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world.

The cyber-attack that has hit 150 countries since Friday should be treated by governments around the world as a “wake-up call”, Microsoft says. The computing giant said software vulnerabilities hoarded by governments had caused “widespread damage”.

 The latest virus exploits a flaw in a version of Microsoft Windows first identified by US intelligence. There are fears of further “ransomware” attacks as people return to work on Monday.

Many firms have had experts working over the weekend to prevent new infections. The virus took control of users' files and demanded US$300 payments to restore access. The spread of the virus slowed over the weekend but the respite might only be brief, experts have warned. More than 200,000 computers have been affected so far.

A statement from Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith on Sunday criticized the way governments store up information about security flaws in computer systems.

“We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world,” he wrote.

“An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen.”

Europol director Rob Wainwright warned that companies must patch their systems before Monday morning. He added: “The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call.”

Microsoft said it had released a Windows security update in March to tackle the problem involved in the latest attack, but many users were yet to run it.

“As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, there is simply no way for customers to protect themselves against threats unless they update their systems,” Mr. Smith said.

Becky Pinkard, from Digital Shadows, a UK-based cyber-security firm, revealed it would be easy for the initial attackers or “copy-cat authors” to change the virus code so it is difficult to guard against. “Even if a fresh attack does not materialize on Monday, we should expect it soon afterwards,” she said.

In England, 48 National Health Service (NHS) trusts reported problems at hospitals, doctor surgeries or pharmacies, and 13 NHS organizations in Scotland were also affected. Other organizations targeted worldwide included Germany's rail network Deutsche Bahn, Spanish telecommunications operator Telefonica, French carmaker Renault, US logistics giant FedEx and Russia's Interior Ministry.

Categories: Politics, International.
Tags: micro, virus NSA.

Top Comments

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  • Voice

    “The latest virus exploits a flaw in a version of Microsoft Windows first identified by US intelligence. ”

    ...and Microsoft are blaming everyone else for it...wait a minute...

    May 15th, 2017 - 10:05 am 0
  • Clyde15

    I believe that Microsoft issued a patch for this in March this year. My computer was automatically updated. A problem is that many companies are still using Windows XP.
    Microsoft warned users years ago that they would no longer issue updates for this system.

    Here is another chilling thought. Our Nuclear subs. use windows software !

    May 15th, 2017 - 10:21 am 0
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