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Despite the brazenness of this extortion scam - which has now sparked law enforcement to mount an worldwide manhunt to catch the unknown perpetrators behind WannaCry - it seems the crooks haven't exactly made it rich with the stunt, netting just over US$26,000 on the first day of the attack.

The vulnerability was found in the older versions of the Microsoft's Windows and not in the latest version of the patch that was released in March.

Though damaging, the WannaCry worm was not the worst that could have happened.

Europe, Asia and Latin America were especially hard hit.

A number of hospitals in England and Scotland were forced to cancel procedures after dozens of NHS systems were brought down, with doctors reporting how their computers were locked "one by one" as the attack spread.

Avivah Litan, a cybersecurity analyst at Gartner, agreed that the government is "is negligent not doing a better job protecting companies", but added that it's not like "you can stop the US government from developing cybertools" that then work as intended.

Aruna Sundararajan, Union electronics and information technology, told Reuters the government was constantly monitoring the situation and that a few stand-alone computers of a police department were "back in action" after being infected over the weekend. Once infected, all of the files on the computer are encrypted by the malware, which then displays a ransom demand of between USA $300 and $600 in bitcoin that needs to be paid before the files can be decrypted.

Backing up data, Symantec adds, "is the single most effect way of combating ransomware infection". Multiple news reports have stated the attackers used tainted e-mails to trick employees into installing the malware on their computers. For example, a blog posting from Kaspersky Lab, a Russian cybersecurity firm with its United States headquarters in Woburn, said that it had not tracked down any such e-mails.

Security company Symantec says that ransomware attacks alone jumped by more than one-third to over 483,800 incidents in 2016.

The spread of the first wave of WannaCry ransomware may have been halted by a cybersecurity researcher who, by registering a domain with a particular name, effectively activated a "kill switch" in the malware software that stops it from spreading further.

The WannaCry ransomware appears to only attack unpatched computers running Windows 10.

The malicious code, which was transmitted rapidly around the world on Friday, took advantage of a flaw in commonly used software - in this case, the Windows operating system.

Most of the photos shared online are actually public displays of which the connected machines have been compromised, but perhaps the most dramatic example of unhatched machines was in the UK's National Health Service which runs their hospitals.

Install Microsoft's official patch.

Businesses, government agencies and other organizations were urged to quickly implement a patch released by Microsoft Corp.

The surveillance and hacking tools developed by the NSA and its likes, make the entire internet less secure. Last week, someone pulled the trigger. It demands up to $300 in Bitcoin to be paid to a certain ID.

Larson said China is particularly vulnerable to malicious code because the majority of the country's computer users are reliant on pirated software.

To complicate matters further, criminals who use ransomware often ask to be paid in Bitcoin or other forms of cryptocurrencies so that payments by victims can not be traced by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

But experts also warn that WannaCry's developers may be working on other versions that won't be easy to disable.

If the criminals were smart, Heilman said, they'd have asked for payment in the form of gift cards from retail stores.


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