More cyberattacks expected in wake of WannaCry

Proprietor of Devine Computers Taleigao, Ashely Delaney says: "Ransom attacks were always present on the internet and hackers through phishing (a fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to induce individuals to reveal personal information) and other methods". Losses from WannaCry will also be limited as the ransomware is largely hitting organizations in Europe and Asia where fewer companies buy cyber insurance, although more companies outside the USA are buying the coverage, he said.

Companies like Microsoft and Apple continually work to find these vulnerabilities before criminals can exploit them. That includes Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 8.

"I'm surprised that it took this long for someone to use the ShadowBrokers leak", said Georgia Weidman, founder and CTO of the Shevirah cyber-security company, who noted that the malware exploit a vulnerability in Windows that's existed for almost a decade.

"The U.S.is still the biggest purchaser, driven by the regulations and the legal environment, but we see a lot of buyers in the United Kingdom and a huge demand increase in Continental Europe, and there's been a spike in demand in Asia", he said. When it first debuted, there were more than a few reasons why you might not want to upgrade, but as time has gone on - and as the operating system has improved - that list has gotten smaller and smaller.

"More than 40,000 businesses and institutions in China have been struck by the malware, according to state media", Schmitz says.

That original sin on Microsoft's part continues to pay dividends for criminals and intrusive government agencies, despite the many opportunities the company had to push out updates that would have shut down unused services or guided users through figuring out what they did and didn't need to run. It could have been used to wipe out the data on computers it infected.

The hole is fixed in the latest versions of Windows.

The problem shows up when one of those embedded applications or other computers running a version of SMBv1 that hasn't been updated appears on the internet. The attack could have been prevented using quite possibly the oldest tool in the security toolbox. One internal NSA document from 2012 claimed that the NSA worked with the largest telecommunications and technology companies in the world to "insert vulnerabilities into commercial encryption systems, IT systems, networks and endpoint communications devices used by targets".

Both Hickey and Horowitz said they haven't heard of any cases where victims successfully freed their computers by paying the ransom.

Although security firms told us some of their clients have successfully paid the attackers to decrypt their computers, they say the response time is getting slower and slower, as the attackers themselves are likely getting overwhelmed with the staggering number of requests. But older systems, including Windows XP which hasn't seen official support since 2014, were still vulnerable.

Ryan O'Leary, vice president of WhiteHat Security's threat research center, points out that this weekend's hackers weren't asking for much, usually about $300.

Users who do not patch their systems and the Shadow Brokers were more directly responsible for the attack than NSA, they said. Those isolated segments can be protected by internal firewalls or default-deny routers.

Such ATMs could be prone to attack so as precautionary measure banks running such ATMs refrained from feeding cash, sources added.

However, a bug in WannaCry code means the attackers can not use unique bitcoin addresses to track payments, security researchers at Symantec found this week. A former cybersecurity researcher with the Israeli Air Force's famous OFEK Unit, he is founder and CEO of Javelin Networks, a security company that uses artificial intelligence to fight against malware.

However, just because the initial attacks may be ending, that doesn't mean it's all clear. How did researchers stop WannaCry?

The use of that domain is being called a "kill switch" in the malware.

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