Ransomware Illustrates Danger of Government 'Exploits'

China's banking regulator said on Wednesday it will strengthen cyber security protection at banks to prevent "disruptive systemic risk events" after the global WannaCry "ransomware" attack infected more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries.

Companies were slow to realise they needed to protect themselves since "the return on investment is impossible to determine", Saiz said, "and we can not know which attacks we survived and how much they cost".

"... There's often a good reason to hold off".

"The government's response has been chaotic", the British Labour Party's health spokesman Jon Ashworth said. "This devastating ransomware worm propagates within networks by exploiting a vulnerability in the network protocol that hosts running Windows operating systems used for providing shared access".

In laboratory testing, researchers at MWR and Kyptos say they have found Windows XP crashes before the virus can spread.

The problem comes from older versions of Windows or those without Windows Updates, as these were not patched by Microsoft and were left open to attacks.

A young British cyber security expert who thwarted many attacks was hailed as a hero after he triggered a "kill switch" by buying and activating a domain that the malware had been programmed to connect infected computers to.

Microsoft also issued a security patch for older Windows operating systems that are no longer supported: Windows Server 2003 SP2 x64, Windows Server 2003 SP2 x86, Windows XP SP2 x64, Windows XP SP3 x86, Windows XP Embedded SP3 x86, Windows 8 x86 and Windows 8 x64 directly from Microsoft.

Don't click on links in emails if you weren't expecting them - the attacker could camouflage a malicious link to make it look like it is for your bank, for example. Shadow Brokers, a group that regularly posts stolen software and hacking tools developed by the USA government, released the tool online last month.

Microsoft declined to comment for this story.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a statement on Friday that it was "aware of reports of ransomware affecting global entities". Infection levels spiked again in both countries this week and remained high through Thursday, according to data supplied to Reuters by threat intelligence firm Kryptos Logic.

Centre said on Monday that there has been no report of major breach in security due to ransomware "WannaCry" except some isolated incidents.

It uses all the same exploits as the WannaCry ransomware, including EternalBlue, a vulnerability first discovered by the NSA and leaked by the hacker group Shadow Brokers in April.

As of 1400 GMT, the total value of funds paid into anonymous bitcoin wallets the hackers are using stood at just $55,169, from 209 payments, according to calculations made by Reuters using publicly available data. The company is crunching data to arrive at a firmer estimate it aims to release later Thursday. Previous year a hospital in Los Angeles paid $17,000 to regain control of its IT system following a ransomware attack. Matthieu Suiche, a security researcher, was able to find two new variants of WannaCry. Experts fear another attack could be on its way. As the malware was expected to encrypt the hardware disk of a computer before spreading to other systems on local area network (LAN), the banks were asked to install the latest patch of anti-virus.

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