What is WannaCry? Here’s how the ransomware software hijacks your computer

Microsoft is unlikely to face legal trouble over the ransomware attack, according to legal experts. You need to know what version of Windows you are running to get the proper patch – an add-on piece of computer code to upgrade and improve software, in this case the Windows operating system.

The National Cyber Security Centre’s latest technical guidance includes specific software patches to use that will prevent uninfected computers on your network from becoming infected with the “WannaCry” ransomware: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/ransomware-latest-ncsc-guidanceAdditional in-depth technical guidance on how to protect your organisation from ransomware is also available from the NCSC at https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/protecting-your-organisation-ransomware and on the Microsoft website: http://www.microsoft.com/security/portal/threat/encyclopedia/Entry.aspx?Name=Ransom:Win32/WannaCrypt.

Meanwhile, new versions of the ransomware have reportedly surfaced, including one without the kill switch exploited by a 22-year-old computer security researcher to shut the attack down. But U.K. hospitals, Chinese universities and global firms like Fedex also reported they had come under assault.

It remained unclear how many organizations had already lost control of their data to the malicious software – and researchers warned that copycat attacks could follow. The exploit was leaked last month as part of a trove of NSA spy tools.

In a rare step, Microsoft published a patch for Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 8-all of them operating systems for which it no longer provides mainstream support.

What is ransomware? It is malware that encrypts the files on an infected system and then demands a ransom to decrypt them, with escalation in the demand over time. Machines that contained the patch are much less at risk than those that didn’t.

Lastly there are, of course, the attackers, who kidnapped precious data and demanded ransom be paid. Up-to-date backups make it possible to restore files without paying a ransom. Jailbreaking, rooting, or disabling any of the default security features of your device will make it more susceptible to malware infections.

The UK’s National Health Service became one of the first high-profile victims of the outbreak, but many other organisations around the world have suffered due to the ransomware.

Earlier on Saturday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said there was “no evidence that patient records have been compromised”.

In China, the internet security company Qihoo360 issued a “red alert” saying that a large number of colleges and students in the country had been affected by the ransomware, which is also referred to as WannaCrypt.

On Monday, the spread of the ransomware appeared to be slowing and, according to Reuters and the Wall Street Journal, no major disruptions were being reported.

“The numbers are still going up”, Wainwright said. With the collaboration, both voluntary and coerced, of the major telecommunications companies, the United States government was able to vacuum up almost all phone conversations, email and chat messages exchanged on digital devices.

The WannaCry worm has affected more than 200,000 Windows computers around the world since Friday, disrupting auto factories, global shipper FedEx Corp and Britain’s National Health Service, among others.

Infected computers appear to largely be out-of-date devices that organizations deemed not worth the price of upgrading or, in some cases, machines involved in manufacturing or hospital functions that proved too hard to patch without possibly disrupting crucial operations, security experts said.

Security experts said his move bought precious time for organizations seeking to block the attacks.

He said most people “are living an online life”, and these agencies have a duty to protect their countries’ citizens in that realm as well.

While everyone scrambles to ensure their business and private networks are protected against this poisonous malware, others are looking for who to blame. Here’s how to turn automatic updates on.

Not to mention the fact that those responsible were able to borrow weaponized software code apparently created by the U.S. National Security Agency to launch the attack in the first place.