It is estimated that the computer attack has now infected computers in over 100 countries. The nickname has become “WannaCry” although it is actually, WannCrypt. It is RansomWare. The virus apparently encrypts all the files on your computer, and thus your computer becomes unusable. A message appears saying that for $300 paid in Bitcoins, they will send you a code to get your computer working again. The virus is spreading like wildfire.
It exploits a vulnerability in the Microsoft software, which was actually fixed in March. But you have to update your Windows software, a very easy procedure. Most people never do the updates.
We wanted to bring you this article because the media just gives us the headlines, and not the details. You must update your Windows software if it’s older than Windows 10. It’s free. Go to the Microsoft website to learn more.
Below is an excerpt of a letter sent by Brad Smith, chief legal counsel and president of Microsoft. He puts some of the blame on the NSA.
“Lessons from last week’s cyberattack”
Early Friday morning the world experienced the year’s latest cyberattack.
Starting first in the United Kingdom and Spain, the malicious “WannaCrypt” software quickly spread globally, blocking customers from their data unless they paid a ransom using Bitcoin. The WannaCrypt exploits used in the attack were drawn from the exploits stolen from the National Security Agency, or NSA, in the United States. That theft was publicly reported earlier this year.
A month prior, on March 14, Microsoft had released a security update to patch this vulnerability and protect our customers. While this protected newer Windows systems and computers that had enabled Windows Update to apply this latest update, many computers remained unpatched globally. As a result, hospitals, businesses, governments, and computers at homes were affected.
All of this provides the broadest example yet of so-called “ransomware,” which is only one type of cyberattack. Unfortunately, consumers and business leaders have become familiar with terms like “zero day” and “phishing” that are part of the broad array of tools used to attack individuals and infrastructure. We take every single cyberattack on a Windows system seriously, and we’ve been working around the clock since Friday to help all our customers who have been affected by this incident. This included a decision to take additional steps to assist users with older systems that are no longer supported. Clearly, responding to this attack and helping those affected needs to be our most immediate priority.
At the same time, it’s already apparent that there will be broader and important lessons from the “WannaCrypt” attack we’ll need to consider to avoid these types of attacks in the future. I see three areas where this event provides an opportunity for Microsoft and the industry to improve.
As a technology company, we at Microsoft have the first responsibility to address these issues. In this instance, this included the development and release of the patch in March, a prompt update on Friday to Windows Defender to detect the WannaCrypt attack, and work by our customer support personnel to help customers afflicted by the attack.
Second, this attack demonstrates the degree to which cybersecurity has become a shared responsibility between tech companies and customers. The fact that so many computers remained vulnerable two months after the release of a patch illustrates this aspect. As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, there is simply no way for customers to protect themselves against threats unless they update their systems.
Finally, this attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem. This is an emerging pattern in 2017. We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world. Repeatedly, exploits in the hands of governments have leaked into the public domain and caused widespread damage.
An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen. And this most recent attack represents a completely unintended but disconcerting link between the two most serious forms of cybersecurity threats in the world today – nation-state action and organized criminal action.
The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call. They need to take a different approach and adhere in cyberspace to the same rules applied to weapons in the physical world. We need governments to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits.
This is one reason we called in February for a new “Digital Geneva Convention” to govern these issues, including a new requirement for governments to report vulnerabilities to vendors, rather than stockpile, sell, or exploit them. And it’s why we’ve pledged our support for defending every customer everywhere in the face of cyberattacks, regardless of their nationality. This weekend, whether it’s in London, New York, Moscow, Delhi, Sao Paulo, or Beijing, we’re putting this principle into action and working with customers around the world.
We should take from this recent attack a renewed determination for more urgent collective action. We need the tech sector, customers, and governments to work together to protect against cybersecurity attacks. More action is needed, and it’s needed now. In this sense, the WannaCrypt attack is a wake-up call for all of us. We recognize our responsibility to help answer this call, and Microsoft is committed to doing its part.
NSA Guilty of Criminal Negligence
Microsoft is spot on with its blog post. As an alleged protector of US security, the NSA sure did a piss poor job. More accurately, the NSA is guilty of criminal negligence for its role in this mess.
- Just how stupid was the NSA to get hacked itself?
- Just how stupid was the NSA for attempting to utilize the hole instead of informing Microsoft?
- Did the NSA demand that backdoor?
- Do we thank the folks who hacked the NSA for publicizing the backdoor necessitating the need to patch the hole?
Bonus fifth question: When does the Congressional investigation start?
Below is what the top NSA WHISTLEBLOWER, WILLIAM BINNEY, said about it:
The item below is very interesting because of the source, William Binney, a whistleblower who was a top person at the NSA years ago.
Excerpt from the George Washington blog:
Washington’s Blog asked the highest level NSA whistleblower ever* – Bill Binney – what he thinks of the attacks.
Binney told us:
This is what I called short sighted finite thinking on the part of the Intelligence Community managers.
This is also what I called (for some years now) a swindle of the tax payers. First, they find or create weaknesses, then they don’t fix these weaknesses so we are all vulnerable to attack.
Then, when attacks occur, they say they need more money for cyber security — a total swindle!!! [Indeed.]
This is only the second swindle of the public. The first was terror efforts by saying we need to collect everything to stop terror — another lie. They said that because to collect everything takes lots and lots of money.
Then, when the terror attack occurs, they say they need more money, people and data to stop terror. Another swindle from the start. [The war on terror is a “self-licking ice cream cone”, because it creates many more terrorists than it stops.]
And, finally, the latest swindle “THE RUSSIANS DID IT.” This is an effort to start a new cold war which means another bigger swindle of US tax payers.
For cyber security, I would suggest the president order NSA, CIA and any others to fix the cyber problems they know about; then, maybe we will start to have some cyber security.
* Binney is the NSA executive who created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information, who served as the senior technical director within the agency, who managed six thousand NSA employees, the 36-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency and the NSA’s best-ever analyst and code-breaker, who mapped out the Soviet command-and-control structure before anyone else knew how, and so predicted Soviet invasions before they happened (“in the 1970s, he decrypted the Soviet Union’s command system, which provided the US and its allies with real-time surveillance of all Soviet troop movements and Russian atomic weapons”).