WannaCry Ransomware: Microsoft Calls Out NSA For 'Stockpiling' Vulnerabilities

Lucky break slows cyberattack; what's coming could be worse

Microsoft's top lawyer is laying some of the blame at the feet of the US government.

Hackers have used "ransomware" to freeze at least 200,000 computers so far, and they have demanded that users pay up to regain access. Brad Smith, who is Microsoft's chief legal officer, said Sunday in a blog post that his company, its customers and the government all share the blame.

Though the ransomware continued to spread at a more subdued pace on Monday, many companies and government agencies were still struggling to recover from the first attack.

Clapper and Europol say the scope of the problem may become bigger when people switch on their computers.

But he also placed fault in national governments. The attack took the world by surprise, with targets scrambling to fix it. Microsoft even went ahead and issued security patches for older Windows versions it no longer supports, including Windows XP - here's how to get it.

Governments should heed the attack as "a wake-up call", the tech exec wrote - adding they must "consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits". Repeatedly, exploits in the hands of governments have leaked into the public domain and caused widespread damage.

When the National Security Agency lost control of the software behind the WannaCry cyberattack, it was like "the USA military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen", Microsoft President Brad Smith says, in a message about the malicious software that has created havoc on computer networks in more than 150 countries since Friday. Smith says that's wrong.

Microsoft distributed the patch two months ago, which could have forestalled much of the attack, but in many organizations it was likely lost among the blizzard of updates and patches that large corporations and governments strain to manage.

Senior US security officials held another meeting in the White House Situation Room on Saturday, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the NSA were working to help mitigate damage and identify the perpetrators of the massive cyber attack, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

To make sure your computer has the latest Microsoft update, go to the start menu on your desktop and look under "all programs" for the "Microsoft Update" tab on older models; newer Windows versions lead you to updates through the start menu, look for "System Center", then "Software Center" and "show all" updates.

"Otherwise they're literally fighting the problems of the present with tools from the past", Smith wrote.

It comes as the former U.S. national intelligence director said the global "ransomware" attack could grow much larger when people return to work.

"More action is needed, and it's needed now", he said.

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