In 2014, Microsoft ended support for the highly popular Windows XP, released in 2001 and engineered beginning in the late 1990s, arguing that the software was out of date and wasn't built with modern security safeguards. Microsoft Corp.is pointing its finger at the USA government, while some experts say the software giant is accountable too.
A global network of cyber-security experts are urging companies and organizations to update older Microsoft operating systems immediately to ensure they don't fall prey to a more powerful and future versions of the ransomware. It breached computers through phishing emails and then spread through networks using a Server Messaging Block vulnerability on outdated Windows computers. Analysts at the European Union cybersecurity agency said the hackers likely scanned the internet for systems that were vulnerable to infection and exploited those computers remotely.
The source of the attack is a worrisome issue for the USA government because the software is based on cyber-tools developed by the National Security Agency (NSA).
"While it would be satisfying to hold accountable those responsible for this hack - something that we are working on quite seriously - the worm is in the wild, so to speak, at this point, and patching is the most important message as a result", said Bossert.
Attacks by WannaCry, also called WannaCrypt, WCry, and Wanna Decryptor, were reported in China, Russia, Taiwan, France, and Japan, according to an Federal Bureau of Investigation notice sent Saturday.
Last year, after a spate of ransomware attacks, US and Canadian authorities rang a five-alarm bell about hospitals and ransomware.More news: Cole shuts down Nationals as Pirates roll to 6-1 win
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Information technology experts warned about a potential second wave of Wanna Decryptor (WannaCry) ransomware attacks, which hit 200,000 computer users in over 150 countries. Microsoft seems to have fired the first salvo by pointing out the dangers of governments' "stockpiling of vulnerabilities" which can cause widespread damage.
The effects of the ransomware attack were felt around the world, affecting computers that run factories, banks, government agencies and transport systems in several countries.
"I very much doubt anyone would return your contact request, bearing in mind the attention that is now on this", he told the BBC. The tools were made public by a hacking group called the Shadow Brokers. Most of the leaked exploits are said to use zero-day vulnerabilities, previously unknown software exploits used by hackers before the software makers are aware of them.
"There are so many states that have been affected".
Microsoft said the vulnerability doesn't exist within the latest version of Windows 10, but if you have an earlier version of Windows, you are encouraged to download the latest update on Microsoft's website.
"Concerted efforts to tackle cyber crimes have been hindered by the actions of the United States", it said, adding that Washington had "no credible evidence" to support bans on Chinese tech firms in the United States following the attack. While old computers are a big part of the problem, old thinking is even worse, he said.
The ransomware attack highlighted the widespread use of pirated Microsoft software around the world, including in China and Russian Federation.