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On Monday, at least 45,000 computers across the globe continued to be held hostage by malware called WannaCrypt (also known as WannaCryptor and WannaCry). This ransomware attack, which demands users shell out $300 to $600 worth of Bitcoins to regain access to their systems, spread across Asia after rocking Europe this weekend. In all, 150 countries have reported compromised computer systems. Businesses in China had systems hijacked, Russia’s interior ministry had 1,000 computers affected and at least one South Korean movie theater had issues playing trailers. Kaspersky Lab, a Russian cybersecurity firm, alleges WannaCrypt ransomware may be tied to hackers from North Korea.
Ransomware is not a new invention. The first piece of malware that demanded payment was written in 1989. But the latest iterations have become increasingly sophisticated. While governments and corporations scramble to perform damage control, here’s what we know about the origins of this cyber attack, who might be to blame and what you can do to protect yourself.
How did this happen?
Who was affected?
Is the threat still out there?
How to protect yourself.
The bottom line: This should be ‘a wake-up call’
In a blog post, Microsoft admonished governments around the world for keeping software vulnerabilities to themselves, instead of reporting them to the developers.
“The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call. They need to take a different approach and adhere in cyberspace to the same rules applied to weapons in the physical world,” said Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith. “We need governments to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits.“
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