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In December 2016, massive DDoS attack took down the DNS service provider Dyn in the US. On 12th May 2017, yet again computers in more than 150 countries were hit by mass cyberattack. This time, exploiting a Windows networking protocol to spread within networks, and demanding ransom. According to Europol – the European law enforcement agency, 200,000 computers have been affected.
WannaCry ransomware locks access to user files and demands payment of $300 (275 euros) in the virtual currency Bitcoin to release control of the files. If the payment is not given in three days, the price is doubled, and if none is received within seven days, the screen message threatens to delete the files.
While the most vulnerable were the ones who had not updated their Windows PC in the recent past. The hackers remain anonymous for now. Gratefully, a young security researcher in the U.K. discovered a “kill-switch” very soon curtailing further spread of the attack. According to sources, the ransomware just made over $50,000.
Some of the popular victims of ransomware include, US package delivery company FedEx, Britain, the Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, French carmaker Renault, Nissan, the German rail operator Deutsche Bahn. Russia’s interior ministry, their central bank and the railways.
As an urgent step, Microsoft released a patch for computers running older operating systems including Windows XP, Android Jelly Bean, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2003. A long lasting fix would be to rebuild a stronger hardware system, and update to avoid large disconnect between software upgrades and hardware release cycles.