'Biggest ransomware outbreak in history' hits nearly 100

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'Biggest ransomware outbreak in history' hits nearly 100countries with data held for ransomUpdated 13 May 2017, 6:47pmDozens of countries have been hit with a huge cyber extortion attack that locked computersand held users' files for ransom at a multitude of hospitals, companies and governmentagencies.How did the attack occur?Attack appeared to be caused by a self-replicating piece of software that takesadvantage of vulnerabilities in older versions of Microsoft Windows, security expertssayIt spreads from computer to computer as it finds exposed targets.Ransom demands start at $US300 and increase after two hours, a security researcherat Kaspersky Lab saysSecurity holes were disclosed several weeks ago by TheShadowBrokers, a mysteriousgroup that has repeatedly published what it says are hacking tools used by the NSAShortly after that disclosure, Microsoft announced it had already issued software"patches" for those holesBut many companies and individuals have not installed the fixes yet or are using olderversions of Windows that the company no longer supports and for which no patch wasavailableThe most disruptive attacks were reported in Britain, where hospitals and clinics were forcedto turn away patients after losing access to computers, but other countries — including Spain,Portugal and Russia — have also been targeted.Cyber extortionists tricked victims into opening malicious malware attachments to spamemails that appeared to contain invoices, job offers, security warnings and other legitimatefiles.The ransomware encrypted data on the computers, demanding payments of $300 to $600 torestore access. Security researchers said they observed some victims paying via the digitalcurrency bitcoin, though they did not know what per cent had given in to the extortionists.Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at Helsinki-based cybersecurity company F-Secure,called it "the biggest ransomware outbreak in history".Page1of4http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-13/biggest-ransomware-outbreak-in-history-hits-nearly-100-nations/8523102
The malicious software behind the onslaught appeared to exploit a vulnerability in MicrosoftWindows that was supposedly identified by the National Security Agency for its ownintelligence-gathering purposes and was later leaked to the internet.Researchers with security software maker Avast said they had observed 57,000 infections in99 countries with Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan the top targets.Chris Wysopal of the software security firm Veracode said criminal organisations wereprobably behind the attack, given how quickly the malware spread."For so many organisations in the same day to be hit, this is unprecedented," Mr Wysopalsaid.But Alan Woodward, visiting professor of computing at the University of Surrey, said he didnot believe it was a targeted attack."But will simply have been that the ransomware has sought out those organisations that arerunning susceptible devices," Mr Woodward said.The US Department of Homeland Security said late on Friday (local time) that it was awareof reports of the ransomware, was sharing information with domestic and foreign partnersand was ready to lend technical support.The Group of Seven (G7) rich nations, which are holding a two-day meeting of financeministers and central bankers in Italy, released a draft statement committing to join forces tofight the rising threat of cyber attacks."We recognise that cyber incidents represent a growing threat for our economies and thatappropriate economy-wide policy responses are needed," the draft statement said.It called for common shared practices to spot quickly any vulnerabilities in the world'sfinancial system and stressed the importance of effective measures to assess cyber securityamong individual financial firms and at sector level.Patients turned away as hospitals hit with ransomwarePrivate security firms identified the ransomware as a new variant of "WannaCry" that had theability to automatically spread across large networks by exploiting a known bug inMicrosoft's Windows operating system.The hackers, who have not come forward to claim responsibility or otherwise been identified,likely made it a "worm," or self-spreading malware, by exploiting a piece of NSA codePage2of4http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-13/biggest-ransomware-outbreak-in-history-hits-nearly-100-nations/8523102
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