Microsoft warns ransomware cyber-attack is a wake-up call

The ransomware has hit various IT systems in more than 150 countries, including Russian Federation and the United Kingdom, in one of the most widespread cyber attacks in history. And while Microsoft had already released a security update to patch the vulnerability one month earlier, the sequence of events fed speculation that the NSA hadn't told the USA tech giant about the security risk until after it had been stolen.

As a new work week began, a number of institutions said they were hit by the "ransomware" attack, which spread across Europe last week. The city of Osaka said its home page went blank, although problems had not been detected otherwise.

A Japanese nonprofit says computers at 600 locations had been hit in the global "ransomware" cyberattack.

In his opinion, a significant share of responsibility for those attacks lies with the governments that collect data about the vulnerabilities in their own interests. The assault infected computer networks around the world, its perpetrators unknown and its goal uncertain, although it may have been nothing more than an attempt to extract money from its victims. "Otherwise they're literally fighting the problems of the present with tools from the past". Its movie ticket systems were unaffected. The company said the virus has been localized and "technical work is underway to destroy it and update the antivirus protection".

A spokesman for York Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said its situation is "constantly improving".

Europol Director Rob Wainwright told the BBC that businesses should ensure that their systems are updated with the latest security patches in order to mitigate chances of further infection and to slow the spread of the ransomware. The NHS has said hospitals have had to cancel some outpatient appointments because of the attack.

Telefónica: Spanish authorities confirmed the Spanish telecom company Telefónica was one of the targets, though the attack affected only some computers and did not compromise the security of clients' information.

"In the meantime, the college has provided our members with guidance and resources to support them through this challenging time and we will continue to monitor the situation and reassure patients that Global Positioning System and their teams are doing all they can to provide safe care".

All it would take is for a new group to change the original malware code slightly to remove the "kill switch" and send it off into the world, using the same email-based methods to infiltrate computer systems that the original attackers used, experts said.

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