Microsoft exec slams NSA over global cyberattack — as experts warn of more infections today

Microsoft exec slams NSA over global cyberattack — as experts warn of more infections today
May 15 13:16 2017 Print This Article

A Microsoft exec blasted the NSA Sunday for its role in “stockpiling vulnerabilities” that led to a ransomware attack of historic proportions — as experts warned workers could discover further infections Monday morning.

Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith likened the crippling “WannaCry” cyber assault on at least 200,000 PCs in more than 150 countries — a result of software exploits pilfered from the National Security Agency in April — to a raid on the Pentagon’s missile arsenal.

“We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world,” Smith wrote in a blog post. “Repeatedly, exploits in the hands of governments have leaked into the public domain and caused widespread damage.

“An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen.”

The global attack that encrypted users’ files and demanded a $300 to $600 BitCoin ransom to unlock them, Smith added, “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.”

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.”

The malware on Friday exploited a Windows vulnerability that came to light through an NSA cyberweapons leak last month.

A 22-year-old British tech nerd halted the attack after purchasing a $10.69 internet domain name that improbably held the kill switch to thwart the strike.

Experts, meanwhile, warned the full brunt of the infection might not be felt until Monday morning when employees arrive at work.

“We’ve seen the extent to which the ransomware, which had its infection rates slowed down over the weekend, now mutated by the cyber crime groups behind it,” Rob Wainwright, director of the EU police agency Europol, told ITV News.

“So a new strain of it is running, which means that I think if companies haven’t patched the problem by the time their people come to work on Monday morning I think we could see the rates of infection going up again quite markedly,” he added.

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