Science

Another NSA Cyber Weapon Stolen By Hackers! Widespread Damage Expected

Another NSA Cyber Weapon Stolen By Hackers! Widespread Damage Expected

The following essay is reprinted with permission from The Conversation, an online publication covering the latest research. The attack's spread demonstrates how hundreds of thousands of computers in more than 150 countries are running outdated software that leaves them vulnerable.

"The recent attack is at an unprecedented level and will require a complex global investigation to identify the culprits", Europol's European Cybercrime Center says. A large cyberattack crippled computer systems at hospitals across England on Friday, with appointments canceled, phone lines down and patients turned away.

Hackers possibly used techniques stolen from the US National Security Agency to encrypt files within affected computers, making them inaccessible, and demanded $300 ransom.

Other criminals may be tempted to mimic the success of Friday's "ransomware " attack, which locks up computers and hold people's files for ransom. Even though the hackers provided a helpful link for those new to paying in bitcoin, the crypto currency is a black box for most people. Our human tendencies and corporate policies worked against us.

The most basic precaution is one everyone knows but not everyone puts into practice: Back everything up. But people often don't, for a number of specific reasons.

"When any technique is shown to be effective, there are nearly always copycats", said Steve Grobman, chief technology officer of McAfee, a security company in Santa Clara, California.

Restrict users' abilities (permissions) to install and run unwanted software applications. It is estimated 60 per cent of small outfits and over 85 per cent individuals use pirated software in India. "At that point, it will be harder to stop new variants". We can just presume that somebody who can penetrate the NSA multiple times - well, that's Russia, China, France, Israel - and who'd want to embarrass the NSA and so be willing to do it in such a way that it compromises sources and methods - you're just left with Russia as the most likely suspect.

Researchers say we will continue to see this type of ransomware. Consequently, these monthly updates may be especially easy to ignore.

The good news is Google releases security updates for Android devices nearly every month - although in certain countries the carriers are responsible for rolling these over to their customers. If, for example, it was clear that skipping a particular update would leave users vulnerable to a unsafe ransomware attack, people might agree to interrupt their work to protect themselves.




Security experts have long warned that any system can be hacked if targeted with sufficient resources.

CBRC also pledged to increase its own cyber security management and risk prevention capabilities, and guide banks to conduct monitoring, assessment, early warning and prevention for similar events.

These innovators are going to play a major role in improving the nation's power grid and will become part of an energy security industry worth billions of dollars. A 2015 survey by Google found that more than one-third of security professionals don't keep their systems current. Here's how to turn automatic updates on. Even fewer-just 38 percent-of regular users do the same.

Krishna Chinthapalli, a doctor at Britain's National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery who wrote a paper on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal, said many British hospitals still use Windows XP software, introduced in 2001. But it's still slow: From the time an update is released, it takes an average of 24 days before half of the computers belonging to software engineers are updated.

This won't take long.

Experts might be quicker at updating because they understand better the potential vulnerabilities updates might fix.

There are other surprises that suggest this is not an ordinary ransomware attack.

That's not the right choice for all kinds of updates, though. He said the software attacking a vulnerability had been incorporated with other software and delivered in a way to cause "infection, encryption and locking". We may need minimum security standards for critical devices. Read the original article.


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