Centre for Internet & Society

Computer security experts said the current attack could have been much worse but for the quick action of a young researcher in Britain who discovered a vulnerability in the ransomware itself, known as WanaCryptor 2.0. It has, however, retweeted a blog post by Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer at Microsoft, who directs much of the blame toward the USA government, arguing that it should have alerted the $524 billion tech titan about the problem.

The article was published in Journaldu Maghreb on May 20, 2017

"This is an emerging pattern in 2017", he continued. "We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the Central Intelligence Agency show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world", wrote Smith in a blog post on Sunday. Then there's the US government, whose Windows hacking tools were leaked to the internet and got into the hands of cybercriminals.

"An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen", Mr Smith wrote. Brad Smith, Microsoft's top lawyer, criticized US intelligence agencies for "stockpiling" software code that can be used by hackers. In February, Smith first called for the creation of what he has dubbed a Geneva Convention for cyberspace, which would outlaw nation-state cyberattacks on critical infrastructure and tech companies.

Cyber-security firm HumanFirewall said that on account of high use of pirated Windows operating system in India, it was more susceptible to the attack. Microsoft has connected previous exploits of its products released by the mysterious Shadow Brokers group to tools which were stolen from NSA cyber warfare operations. "All our systems are updated as required". This sophisticated, self-propagating malware was created to spread to all other computers on the same network after infecting one machine.

Estimates by law enforcement agency Europol estimated yesterday that more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries were infected, but with the worm continuing to spread to vulnerable Windows machines, that number will surely rise. When 22 year olds are the heroes of the anti-cyber attack fight, rather than the agencies tasked to defend countries against these types of threats, it is perhaps time to question what these organisations have been doing all this time? NHS staff shared screenshots of the WannaCry programme, which demanded a payment of $300 (£230) in virtual currency Bitcoin to unlock the files for each computer. That dump included a vulnerability codenamed EternalBlue, which preys on a flaw in Microsoft Word to transmit malicious software from one Windows Computer to another. Usually used by cyber criminals, ransomware is a popular means of making illicit money from victims who have to pay the criminals in order to have their data decrypted.

Today is likely to be painful for many organizations all over the world that took the weekend off and are returning to the work-week to find hundreds or thousands of computers on their networks encrypted by WannaCry ransomware, which surfaced Friday and has been propagating ever since. It was a stress-filled weekend for many IT workers this past weekend as the WannaCry ransomware attack spread, crippling Windows systems worldwide.

Security firm BinaryEdge, which specializes in internet-wide scans, has detected more than 1 million Windows systems that have the SMB service exposed to the internet. "Otherwise they're literally fighting the problems of the present with tools from the past", he said. However, a cyber security expert working with the Centre for Internet and Society, Udbhav Tiwari working on vulnerabilities such as these, said as most ATMs in the country especially of the public-sector banks run on outdated operating systems, or are not updated regularly, they can be easily compromised. This allowed users of the older systems to secure their computers without requiring an upgrade to the latest operating software.