WannaCry ransomware samples discovered in the wild

Other nations were not so fortunate, with Russian officials saying that their country was hit the hardest, an assembly plant in Slovenia for French automaker Renault reporting being targeted, along with Spanish telecom company Telefonica.

It was originally believed that computers running Windows XP, the operating system Microsoft launched 16 years ago, were most at risk from Wanna Cry. It took hostage of the files on systems using out-of-date Microsoft software and prodded users to send a ransom over bitcoin, a secure digital currency. After seven days your files are permanently locked.

It's the largest known incident of ransomware to date, and has been linked to attacks on Microsoft computers and networks all around the world, most famously locking up and shutting down operations for at least 16 hospitals in the United Kingdom. Now that researchers have had time to analyse the self-replicating attack, they're learning details that shed new and sometimes surprising light on the world's biggest ransomware attack. They used a stolen tool reportedly developed by the National Security Agency to exploit a hidden weakness in the Windows operating system and spread their ransomware far and wide. In Australia, the Telstra Cyber Security Report for 2017 revealed that the rate of cybercrime in the country had doubled over the past year, with nearly two-thirds of Australian businesses being hit during the past year.

The WannaCry ransomware has been creating havoc in systems worldwide for some time now. Remember, Microsoft guarantees no security support whatsoever for Windows XP. The company was lauded for doing that, because it made the patch available to anyone running XP, even though XP is no longer supported by Microsoft. Furst said no similar flaw in the Mac software has been found yet to allow for encryption like WannaCry. The "switch" works like this: The ransomware program periodically looks for the domain name, and if it comes back as registered, the software stops spreading itself.

"Proprietary software is an unsafe building material". The first examples of WannaCry, predating the version used in recent attacks which propagates like a worm, dates back to February this year. "Enable Windows update, update and then reboot". The moment they find any, they should alert tech companies, which could then write a patch to close the hole. Why healthcare? Simple, healthcare systems are the most diverse and heterogeneous networks and typically use software and systems which are geared towards saving lives, whereas security tends not to be an initial consideration.

Other versions of Windows were not as vulnerable, although not always for the right reasons.

A statement from Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith said: "As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, there is simply no way for customers to protect themselves against threats unless they update their systems".

Attack will continue for a while - The WannaCry Ransomware spreads through unsafe file sharing practices all around the internet. Several commenters on the Guardian's online coverage had the same sentiment: "You either pay the criminals, or you pay Microsoft".

With ransomware a very real threat, and on the rise, what exactly is it and what can you do to protect yourself and your firm?

Even though Microsoft had previously released patches to prevent this attack, users who were yet to install them or used unsupported versions of Windows remain vulnerable. Make a backup of your files.

When a customer comes to Brigman with a computer that may be infected with a virus, Brigman runs a diagnostic scan of the computer without accessing the internet with an nearly current tool. Do I need to open that file or go to that link?

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