“Employees booting up computers at work Monday could see red as they discover they’re victims of a global ‘ransomware’ cyberattack that has created chaos in 150 countries and could wreak even greater havoc as more malicious variations appear,” Sylvia Hui and Christopher S. Rugaber report for The Associated Press. “As a loose global network of cybersecurity experts fought the ransomware hackers, officials and experts on Sunday urged organizations and companies to update older Microsoft operating systems immediately to ensure they aren’t vulnerable to a second, more powerful version of the software – or to future versions that can’t be stopped.”

“The initial attack, known as ‘WannaCry,’ paralyzed computers that run Britain’s hospital network, Germany’s national railway and scores of other companies and government agencies worldwide in what was believed to be the biggest online extortion scheme ever recorded,” Hui and Rugaber report. “The hackers exploited software code from the National Security Agency that leaked online.”

“New variants of the rapidly replicating worm were discovered Sunday and one did not include the so-called kill switch that allowed researchers to interrupt its spread Friday by diverting it to a dead end on the internet,” Hui and Rugaber report. “The attack held users hostage by freezing their computers, popping up a red screen with the words, ‘Oops, your files have been encrypted!’ and demanding money through online bitcoin payment – $300 at first, rising to $600 before it destroys files hours later.”

“The ransomware attack was particularly malicious, because if just one person in an organization clicked on an infected attachment or bad link, all the [Windows PC] computers in a network would be infected, said Vikram Thakur, technical director of Symantec Security Response,” Hui and Rugaber report. ” The ransomware exploits older versions of Microsoft’s operating system software, such as Windows XP.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Karmic payback never ends for cheapskates still using staring slack-jawed at remotely disabled, crappy, old Windows PCs.

Life’s too short. Stop wasting your time. Stop stressing out. Get a Mac. — MacDailyNews, May 11, 2010

Microsoft. Your frustration. Our fault.

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