How to Shield Your System Against WannaCry Ransomware Attack

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Capitalising on spying tools developed by the US National Security Agency (NSA), the ransomware attack has infected tens of thousands of computers in 104 countries, though at this stage relatively few in Australia. There are almost 150 million computers running Windows XP operation system globally.

Following the flurry of reports of the attack, the chief of global and legal affairs at Iran's Cyber Police warned that the "ransomware," which has affected countless computer systems worldwide, has done the same to some systems inside the country.

The ransomware is known as WannaCry, WanaCrypt0r 2.0 or WCry and it's especially risky because it includes some sort of "worm functionality" that makes it more vicious than a regular ransomware attack. WannaCry demanded bitcoin to restore users' access to their hijacked files.

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In what one of the most significant cyberattacks ever recorded, computer systems from the U.K.to Russia, Brazil and the US were hit beginning Friday by malicious software that exploited a vulnerability in Microsoft's Windows operating system.

The malicious ransomware attacks that affected computers in at least 150 countries on Friday could spread further as employees return to work this week, according to several cyber-security experts.

Microsoft has issued an advisory while releasing a patch for Windows XP. But many corporations don't automatically update their systems, because Windows updates can screw up their legacy software programs. The victims have been advised not to pay the $300 ransom requested by the hackers, who've threatened to wipe PCs of those who don't pay up in a given timeframe.

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Fortunately, the campaign was halted when a 22-year-old security researcher named Marcus Hutchins found a simple kill switch that neutralized the ransomware's potency.

Dame Fiona Caldicott, speaking on Monday at the Caldicott Guardians National Annual Conference in London, referred to a letter and review sent last July on the nation's cyber security. He noted there was no indication the cyber attack had resulted in widespread disclosure of personal data. Security Update KB401258 protects vulnerable Windows and Windows Server editions, including Windows 8, Vista, XP and Windows Server 2003 and 2008. According to Kaspersky Lab, the four most affected countries were Russia, Ukraine, India and Taiwan. They are also looking to wipe out any possible malware infections in their system.

In past year India has seen at least three sophisticated ransomware attacks on Indian companies and banks.

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