Updated: Recent Cyber Attack Draws Attention to Personal Security & Government Surveillance

A new Ransomware know as WannaCry spread to at least 150 countries on May 12, 2017. It targets the Microsoft Windows Operating System using an exploit the NSA developed. The cyber attack infected over 230,000 computers and it demands you pay between 300 to 600 US Dollars worth of Bitcoins to make it go away. Luckily it was not made to target home computers.

To be safe and secure on your devices Mr. Arenstam, Department Head of  Technology & New Media, suggests three simple tips, “Stay up to date with security and software patches, save critical documents in the cloud, and do not open emails from unknown sources.”

The virus has hit many large companies and agencies throughout the world. A major hit was the National Health Services in England which has been reported still running windows XP.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Shortly after the attack Microsoft released an update to patch the exploit and The Microsoft President blasted the NSA for it’s roll in the attack. “This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem,” Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer at Microsoft, wrote in the wake of the “WannaCry” computer virus attack, which crippled computers worldwide.

BBC Reported “a Twitter bot tracking Bitcoin payments to digital wallets set up by whoever is behind WannaCry suggests that some people are quite willing to cough up the cash.”

The Next Web Reported, “Twitter user MalwareTech, who wishes to remain anonymous, told The Guardian that when he looked into a sample of the malware, found it connected to a specific domain that wasn’t registered at the time. So he bought it, and that effectively activated a kill switch and ended the spread of WannaCry.”

Speaking to BBC the twitter user said,

We have stopped this one, but there will be another one coming and it will not be stoppable by us. There’s a lot of money in this. There’s no reason for them to stop. It’s not really much effort for them to change the code and then start over. So there’s a good chance they are going to do it… maybe not this weekend, but quite likely on Monday morning.

MalwareTech tweeted, “Version 1 of WannaCrypt was stoppable but version 2.0 will likely remove the flaw. You’re only safe if you patch ASAP.”

The LA Times also reported, “In February, Microsoft had called for a “Digital Geneva Convention,” to reach a new international agreement that would push spy agencies to report vulnerabilities to vendors, rather than trying to exploit them for surveillance purposes.”

As Silicon Valley questions the Government’s use of insecurities and Vulnerabilities, We should too. After Edward Snowden and the truth of the Patriot Act, millennials and the younger generations start to question the security and privacy of their own devices. We begin to think, “Am I being watched? Is the Government listening to my phone calls? Or Surveilling my web history?” These are all questions we should be asking. Where is the line drawn between personal privacy and National Security? Is it okay for the government to not report vulnerabilities it finds in systems? Are you okay with mass surveillance of citizens if it means we are safer?

Ben Nasse, Director of  Technology, said “I think the number one piece of advice I would give students is to be really cautious about links in eMail. The vast majority of attacks we see on our clients are due to phishing scams which trick users into giving out their usernames and passwords.Even if you think you know the sender of an email do not click on a link or an attachment unless you have verified by phone or in a separate email that they have in fact sent you something. The next big piece of advice that I think is more specific to WannaCry would be to keep your systems updated. Although sometimes cumbersome it is definitely worth your while.”

Here is a link to a live map tracking WannaCry: https://intel.malwaretech.com/WannaCrypt.html

This is a link to another tracker with more data https://intel.malwaretech.com/botnet/wcrypt

 

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