Ransomware cyber-attack a wake-up call, Microsoft warns

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Microsoft's top lawyer is laying some of the blame for Friday's massive cyberattack at the feet of the US government. Don't click on links that you don't recognize, or download files from people you don't know personally. Then, hackers demand $300 to decode files, encrypted by the virus. However, he said it's only a matter of time before a malevolent version exists. Microsoft said the decision was based on protecting the Windows ecosystem itself, which seems sensible given the backlash will affect all of Windows's reputation.

A 22-year-old United Kingdom -based cybersecurity researcher with a Twitter handle @MalwareTechBlog helped stem the spread of the cyber attack by buying the domain name associated with a "kill switch" that hackers built to stop the malware once the victims make ransom payments, the report added.

A cyber-attack that hit 150 countries since Friday should be treated by governments around the world as a "wake-up call", Microsoft has said.

"In cases of genuine URLs close out the e-mail and go to the organisation's website directly through browser", it said.

Microsoft is blaming the US government.

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It is the largest ransomware attack observed in history. By going online, they will open more avenues to spread the malicious software.

The National Crime Agency encourages victims not to pay any ransom and to contact Action Fraud. "The bad guys are always one step ahead".

"Who's culpable are the criminals that distributed it and the criminals that weaponized it", Bossert said.

Many firms have had experts working over the weekend to prevent new infections.

According to ZDNet, Microsoft Corp.

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Microsoft also issued a security patch for older Windows operating systems that are no longer supported: Windows Server 2003 SP2 x64, Windows Server 2003 SP2 x86, Windows XP SP2 x64, Windows XP SP3 x86, Windows XP Embedded SP3 x86, Windows 8 x86 and Windows 8 x64 directly from Microsoft. In 2000, a Filipino computer graduate unleashed the "Love Bug" virus that wreaked havoc in at least 20 countries and caused losses estimated at up to $10 billion. The other is to disable a type of software that connects computers to printers and faxes, which the virus exploits, O'Leary added. Security experts have strongly recommended all Windows users fully update their system with the latest available patches.

"It's one of those things, in a flawless world, if people were up to date on the patches, this wouldn't be a problem", O'Leary said. The most important thing we can do right now is to be in touch with them, and to offer reassurance and guidance as appropriate. The patch lists can be ginormous. But how much do individuals need to worry about their personal computers being targeted?

Those who use Apple's Mac computers are not at risk of the recent ransomware attack. On Friday, a global cyberattack affected those who hadn't updated their systems.

Countries so far hit by the attack include the UK, US, Spain, Ukraine, France, Russia, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, India, Sweden and Norway.

It said Sunday that a similar cyberattack could also recur, though it did not have "specific evidence" of this.

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The only warning is a frozen computer screen.

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