Cyberattack: Experts ask firms to update their operating systems

RSTV Bureau

India’s Cyber security agency Computer Emergency Response Team of India (CERT-In) has asked organizations and companies to update their operating systems immediately to ensure they aren’t vulnerable to a second, more powerful version of the malicious software.

“Individuals or organisations are not encouraged to pay the ransom, as this does not guarantee files will be released. Report such instances of fraud to CERT-In and law enforcement agencies,” said CERT-In in a red-coloured “critical alert”.

The cyberattack paralyzed computers that run Britain’s hospital network, Germany’s national railway and scores of other companies and government agencies worldwide.

Cyber-attackThe attack, already believed to be the biggest online extortion scheme ever recorded, is an “escalating threat” after hitting 200,000 victims across the world since Friday, according to the head of Europol, Europe’s policing agency.

The countries, including India, were hit by what is believed to be the biggest-ever recorded cyberattack on Friday with investigators looking for those behind the hack that affected systems at banks, hospitals and government agencies globally, media reports said

“The numbers are still going up,” he said. “We’ve seen that the slowdown of the infection rate over Friday night, after a temporary fix around it, has now been overcome by a second variation the criminals have released.”

His concerns were echoed by James Clapper, former director of national intelligence under President Barack Obama. In an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Clapper said the worry was “this ransomware attack will be even larger” as people return to their desks after the weekend.

cyber-security-2The 200,000 victims included more than 100,000 organizations, Europol spokesman Jan Op Gen Oorth told The Associated Press. He said it was too early to say who was behind the onslaught and what their motivation was, aside from the obvious demand for money. So far, he said, not many people have paid the ransom demanded by the malware.

The attack held users hostage by freezing their computers, encrypting their data and demanding money through online bitcoin payment — USD 300 at first, rising to USD 600 before it destroys files hours later.

The effects were felt across the globe, with Britain’s National Health Service, Russia’s Interior Ministry and companies including Spain’s Telefonica, FedEx Corp. in the US and French carmaker Renault all reporting disruption

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