Microsoft faulted over ransomware while shifting blame to NSA

Ben Wallace, UK Security Minister, has called issues raised during the past few days around the use of Windows XP across the NHS following the global cyber attack "red herrings". The attack, which locked users out of their systems and networks and demanded ransom of about $300 in the form of Bitcoin digital currency, crippled hospitals, businesses and government agencies.

Other computers potentially at risk are those that have not been receiving regular software updates known as "patches" that Microsoft distributes regularly via Internet.

Computers that run Windows 7, 8, and 10 that have been updating since at least March are fine, Nash said. "Today's worldwide ransomware attack shows what can happen when the NSA or Central Intelligence Agency write malware instead of disclosing the vulnerability to the software manufacturer". There are numerous ransomware kits available through the dark web which can be bought and used to anyone's advantage, if they know what they are doing.

The state-run People's Daily compared the cyber attack to the terrorist hacking depicted in the U.S. film "Die Hard 4", warning that China's role in global trade and internet connectivity opened it to increased risks from overseas. Using an operating system after its expiration date is unwise, but in fairness to the millions of people around the world still using old versions of Windows, expecting consumers to regularly buy expensive software of uncertain quality is unwise too.

Second, use state-of-the-art tools to protect the network against known and unknown malware and attacks. When this happens, you can't get to the data unless you pay a ransom. But in this case, according to Kaspersky Lab, the shared code was removed from the versions of WannaCry that are now circulating, which reduces the likelihood of such a "false flag" attempt at misdirection.

Once malicious software is in the wild, it is commonly reused by hacking groups, especially nation-states trying to leave the fingerprints of another country. The British National Health Service was one of the earlier targets and also among the hardest hit.

He continued, "This ransomworm moves laterally inside the network and encrypts every PC and server, including the organization's backup".

Spanish firm Telefonica, French automaker Renault, the USA -based delivery service FedEx and the German railway Deutsche Bahn were among those affected. It can't be overstated that the choice to let older versions of Windows lapse into a condition of permanent insecurity is as much a business strategy as an engineering decision, and one that leaves Microsoft customers in the lurch when something like WannaCry breaks loose. Whoever is behind the attack could update the ransomware and remove the kill switch.

China Daily said that National Security Agency of US should carry some responsibility for the attack which marks susceptibilities in Microsoft Corp systems and has septic about 30,000 Chinese officialdoms till Saturday. Even though Microsoft no longer provides updates for Windows XP, it is still widely used in Europe and Asia. Security patches would be available for clients with older machines, but only if they paid for custom support agreements.

In the wake of the attack, which also goes by the name WannaCrypt, a top executive at Microsoft criticized the government for stockpiling software vulnerabilities and keeping them secret. "We need governments to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits", he said.

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