There are reports that more than 75000 ransomware attacks have taken place some days ago, with the ‘WannaCry’ ransomware having exploited weaknesses in the Microsoft systems.
Ransomware Pops Up Globally
Users are generally advised not to click on any links or download an attachment or a file that comes from an unknown source. This is due to the fact that such links can contain malware that could allow hackers to enter the system and also cause ransomware.
There are reports about one of the biggest cases of ransomware attacks in recent history. Avast, a security organization, claims to have detected more than 75,000 such ransomware attacks in a single day recently. The ransomware was detected in systems spread over 99 countries from all over the world. The latest ransomware attack has even attacked major systems, such as the National Health Services of England and Telefonica, a telecom organization of Spain. The attacks are now spreading from Europe and coming into the US.
The name of the recent ransomware is WannaCry and it is said that the US NSA created the malware. WannaCry was created for taking advantage of vulnerabilities in the Microsoft system and the identifying agency has given the name of EternalBlue to the ransomware. NSA had created the tools and The Shadow Brokers, a hacking group, stole these and attempted to sell the tools during an auction and then make them available for free.
Homeland Security has released a statement wherein they have alerted all individual users about the ransomware threat. It has urged users to update their OS and implement strict cybersecurity measures for their systems, at home, at work and in schools.
Windows 10 Secure
However, Microsoft claims that those who are using the Windows 10 system fully updated version with the Windows Defender that runs the newest virus definitions, are not vulnerable to the ransomware attacks. According to Microsoft, all Windows versions that are supported, namely, Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, will not be vulnerable to the ransomware attacks, if they have installed the latest update of May 2017 patches.
Windows XP and Windows Vista
However, WannaCry can attack several other systems that are running on the Windows XP or the Windows Vista, as they form a huge share of PCs in the world. Both these are not receiving updates and security patches from Microsoft any more. Windows XP has 7% of the market and the NHS is still running the unsupported version. There are no updates for the Windows XP since the month of April 2014.
The WannaCry attacks result in locking down of the system and demands a ransom amounting to $300 in the form of Bitcoins. The number of attacks is slowly growing and it is spreading to new places all over the world. It is important for individual users as well as organizations to bring their operating systems up to date with the latest patches from Microsoft, as soon as possible.