Ransomware attack: Infrastructure agencies asked to step up cyber vigil

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"The recent attack is at an unprecedented level and will require a complex global investigation to identify the culprits", said a statement issued by Europol, Europe's police agency.

Russia's Interior Ministry released a statement acknowledging a ransomware attack on its computers, adding that less than 1% of computers were affected, and that the virus is now "localized".

The original attack lost momentum late on Friday after a security researcher took control of a server connected to the outbreak, which crippled a feature that caused the malware to rapidly spread across infected networks.

Lawrence Abrams, a New York-based blogger who runs BleepingComputer.com, says many organizations don't install security upgrades because they're anxious about triggering bugs, or they can't afford the downtime.

Installing the patch is one way to secure computers against the virus.

Microsoft's lawyer says governments should "report vulnerabilities" that they discover to software companies, "rather than stockpile, sell, or exploit them".

Symantec said the majority of organisations affected were in Europe. But U.K. hospitals, Chinese universities and global firms like Fedex also reported they had come under assault.

He said it's likely the ransomware will spread to US firms too.

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The harsh lesson to be learned is that we have to better protect our systems, at the individual, corporate and government levels.

Europol's Wainwright underscored the point Sunday.

This security update resolves vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows.

"Looking at the trends, it was going to happen", he said. It locks the user out in order to prevent them from accessing any saved files until they pay a certain amount of money. The tools were made public by a hacking group called the Shadow Brokers.

The ransomware is spread by taking advantage of a Windows vulnerability that Microsoft released a security patch for in March.

"Just patch their systems as soon as possible", MalwareTech said. Although it won't do any good for machines that have already been hit. In addition to Russian Federation, the biggest targets appeared to be Ukraine and India, nations where it is common to find older, unpatched versions of Windows in use, according to the security firm. Wainwright said Europol did not know the motive.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, at a meeting of world leaders in Italy, said the attack was a reminder of the importance of cybersecurity. This may explain why WannaCry's impact has been so massive, because large numbers of machines at each victim organization are being compromised.

Britain's National Health Services first sounded the ransomware alarm Friday.

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For instance, the Conficker virus, which first appeared in 2008 and can disable system security features, also spreads through vulnerabilities in internal file sharing.

How To Protect Yourself From WannaCry Ransomware?

Gas stations: State-run media in China reported that some gas stations saw their digital payment systems shut down, forcing customers to bring cash.

Senior U.S. security officials held another meeting in the White House Situation Room on Saturday, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the NSA were working to help mitigate damage and identify the perpetrators of the massive cyber attack, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

"Malware that penetrates the perimeter and then spreads inside the network tends to be quite successful", said Johannes Ullrich, director of the Internet Storm Center at the SANS Institute. The affected groups include the United Kingdom hospitals, FedEx, a Spanish telecom, the Russian Interior Ministry and much more.

"In the event of infection, this will help you recover all data", said Urban Schrott, IT security and cybercrime analyst with Eset Ireland.

According to Matthew Hickey, founder of the security firm Hacker House, Friday's attack is not surprising, and it shows many organizations do not apply updates in a timely fashion.

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