NSA under attack from Microsoft over WannaCrypt

WannaCrypt ransomware

Microsoft sounds absolutely livid at the NSA over the ransomware nightmare that is estimated to have infected as many as 200,000 computers worldwide running the Windows operating system.

Microsoft blames the NSA because it says the so-called “WannaCrypt” ransomware hack was made possible by the theft of exploits from the government’s cyber security agency – exploits which were reported earlier this year.

More technical details about WannaCrypt can be found on Engadget.com.

The WannaCrypt ransomware seems to have hit computers worldwide, apparently freezing Britain’s hospital network, Germany’s rail network and many other government agencies and companies, including Japan, Russia, Ukraine, Spain, and India – to name a few.

Communist Chinese state media said almost 30,000 of its institutions had been infected, with hundreds of thousands of devices affected by WannaCrypt. Capitalist cash machines in the country were among the many systems attacked.

More details about the scale of the attack can be found on the Washington Post website, where one cyber security company has been quoted as saying that “just about every IT department has been working all weekend” on a patch to mitigate what looks like a pretty big hack attack.

And according to Forbes, one particular vulnerability in Windows was used by the WannaCrypt hackers to spread a worm which spread quickly and silently between PCs.

Given that most if not all of the computers and devices, this does not look good for Windows, and the company is trying to deflect the blame by attacking the NSA.

Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith sounds incensed at the situation, and likened the WannaCrypt attack to the US armed forces having some of its weapons stolen.

In a Microsoft company blog post, Smith writes: “An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen. And this most recent attack represents a completely unintended but disconcerting link between the two most serious forms of cybersecurity threats in the world today – nation-state action and organized criminal action.

“The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call. They need to take a different approach and adhere in cyberspace to the same rules applied to weapons in the physical world. We need governments to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits.”

Smith says the WannaCrypt maliciousness started in the UK and Spain and quickly spread around the world, with users of infected computers being blocked from their data unless they paid a ransom in bitcoins.

Smith writes: “The WannaCrypt exploits used in the attack were drawn from the exploits stolen from the NSA, in the United States. That theft was publicly reported earlier this year.

“A month prior, on March 14, Microsoft had released a security update to patch this vulnerability and protect our customers.

“While this protected newer Windows systems and computers that had enabled Windows Update to apply this latest update, many computers remained unpatched globally.

“As a result, hospitals, businesses, governments, and computers at homes were affected.”