Cyber-attack a “wake-up call” says Microsoft

Cyber Crime

Microsoft have said that the cyber-attack which has impacted 150 countries must be treated as a “wake-up call” by governments around the world.

The tech giant has placed the blame on governments, saying that their decision to store date on vulnerable software made it possible for this data to be accessible for hackers.

As yet, there have been no further reports of serious “ransomware” attacks, however fears of another attack are widespread.

Experts have been working for a number of companies this weekend, with businesses desperate to avoid a similar incident in the future,

The virus took control of files and demanded payments of £230 ($300) in order to restore the device to working order.

At the time of writing, over 200,000 computers have been affected so far.

Analysis from the BBC suggests that around £29,400 ($38,000) has been paid so far.

Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith criticised governmental handling of data regarding computer systems.

“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,” he wrote.

“An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen.”

He added: “The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call.”

Microsoft also criticised the failure from many organisations to keep their systems up to date, saying that this made it considerably easier for the virus to spread.

A Windows security update was released in March, but many users were yet to run it.

“As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, there is simply no way for customers to protect themselves against threats unless they update their systems,” Mr Smith said.

A UK cyber-security researcher known as ‘MalwareTech’, who was responsible for helping to limit the attacks, predicted that there would be “another one coming… quite likely on Monday”.

MalwareTech, who was revealed to be 22-year-old Marcus Hutchins, registered a domain name in order to track the spread of the virus, however this ended up halting it.

Becky Pinkard, from Digital Shadows, a UK-based cyber-security firm, told AFP news agency that it would be easy for the initial attackers or “copy-cat authors” to change the virus code so it is difficult to guard against.

“Even if a fresh attack does not materialise on Monday, we should expect it soon afterwards,” she said.