Centre for Internet & Society

The attackers targeted a weakness found in older versions of Microsoft Windows.

The article by Juana McKenzie was published in the World News Journal on May 20, 2017.

Since late last week, the WannaCry cyber scourge has blocked customers the world over from accessing their data - unless they paid a ransom using Bitcoin. Here's what you should do to protect yourself.

Third, and perhaps more important: like the emperor's new clothes, even this new-fangled ransomware isn't as sophisticated as it's cracked up to be. If you're unsure about the legitimacy of something, delete it.

When Microsoft sells software it does so through a licensing agreement that states the company is not liable for any security breaches, said Michael Scott, a professor at Southwestern Law School.

It pays to know the proper file extensions that are available.

If you happen to come across files such as worklog.doc.exe, or financial_statement.xls.scr, do not open them as the files are most likely malicious.

'And this most recent attack represents a completely unintended but disconcerting link between the two most serious forms of cyber security threats in the world today - nation-state action and organised criminal action'.

Then there's the USA government, whose Windows hacking tools were leaked to the internet and got into the hands of cybercriminals.

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.

No. This strain of ransomware was spread from device to device by taking advantage of an old security hole in some versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system.

Microsoft released a patch for this vulnerability in March and, on the heels of the attack Friday, even took the unusual step of releasing fixes for older versions of Windows that are no longer supported, such as Windows XP, Windows Server 2013, and Windows 8. This included the release of the patch in March and an update on Friday to Windows Defender to detect the WannaCrypt attack.

As there are different types of ransomware, there is no single, easy solution to restore your computer if it has been infected. Enterprises need to test patches before installing them to ensure that they don't have compatibility issues with existing applications and break existing workflows.

Security experts have hailed Microsoft's decision to publicly call out the U.S. government and the NSA's decision to stockpile cyberweapons.

"As software has become ever more complex, interdependent and interconnected, our reputation as a company has in turn become more vulnerable", Gates wrote in an email to employees identifying trustworthy computing as Microsoft's top priority. Such software will act as the first line of defence by blocking auto downloads and actively scan for suspected threats on the PC.

The culprit was "ransomware" known as WanaCryptOr 2.0, or WannaCry.

Europol said a special task force at its European Cybercrime Centre was "specially created to assist in such investigations and will play an important role in supporting the investigation".

Kaspersky said it was seeking to develop a decryption tool "as soon as possible". If the ransomware has locked your entire PC, as WannaCry has done, combating it is more hard. Backups often are also out of date and missing critical information.

Cloud storage services such as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox and Box offer large amount of storage space for a monthly or yearly subscription fee.