Hospitals, major companies and government offices have been hit by a massive wave of cyberattacks across the globe that seizes controls of computers until victims pay ransom.
Cybersecurity firm Avast has identified more than 75,000 ransomware attacks in 99 countries. Making it one of the broadest and damaging cyberattacks in history. Global firms like Fedex has reported that they come under attack. The ransomware called “WannaCry” locks down all the files and asks the computer’s administrator to pay to regain control of them. Affected machines have six hours to pay up and every few hours the ransom goes up.
16 National Health Service Organizations have been hit by the virus in the United Kingdom. “Global internet security has reached a moment of emergency,” Qihoo360, an internet security company, warned.
The ransomware is spread by taking advantage of a Windows vulnerability that Microsoft released a security patch for in March. But computers and networks that hadn’t updated their systems were still at risk. In the wake of the attack, Microsoft said it had taken the “highly unusual step” of releasing a patch for computers running older operating systems including Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003.
Read more about Microsoft fix.
How to prevent it
The ransomware is automatically scanning for computers it can infect whenever it loads itself onto a new machine. It can infect other computers on the same wireless network. Companies can apply the patch released in March to all systems to prevent WannaCry infections. Although, if a computer is already infected it won’t do any good.
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