White House Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert said WannaCry has not infected the federal government's systems but the U.S.is working to identify the culprits and a foreign government may be involved. Companies located in Europe and Asia are thought to be particularly vulnerable to the ransomware as they do not have the same safeguards in place as USA businesses and many of which are running older versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system. This particular program, called WannaCry, asks for about $300, though the price increases over time.
"There is simply no way for customers to protect themselves against threats unless they update their systems".
Microsoft, however, released a patch against the vulnerability on March 14, which could indicate that the company was notified by the USA intelligence agency that their tools using that particular backdoor had been compromised. However, if your devices have been infected by WannaCry - the malware that has affected the NHS' computer system - the ransomware will lock your entire PC. Microsoft's practice of discontinuing support for older versions of its operating systems leaves those still running them vulnerable.
He stressed that consumers also have a pivotal role and must not be complacent. It's crucial that customers allow their computers to automatically patch themselves when patches are issued.
Some security experts expect a fresh wave of attacks will begin Monday, as employees arrive at work and turn on affected computers.
For those running Windows 10 or Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 systems, which has automatic updates turned on, you'll remain protected from WannaCry. Use a reputable security software to prevent attacks in the future.
Businesses and large organizations are mostly at risk of this attack because of a flaw in a Windows protocol that many businesses use to share files. A 22-year old security researcher in the United Kingdom discovered a "kill-switch" to initially stop the spread of the attack. The longer victims pay, the longer ransomware will continue to grow, or at least that's what leading cyber security firms believe and it's why they advise against it. Rather, it targeted a newer digital currency called Monero, which experts say has been pursued recently by North Korea-linked hackers.