Sharper Point: Four takeaways from the WannaCry cyberattack

And this ended up being a big enough deal that Microsoft delayed the February patch into March and released it, at which point The Shadow Brokers' tools are useless to anybody who actually updates their system. It's about what intelligence agencies, like the CIA and the NSA, need to do.

The state-run People's Daily compared the cyber attack to the terrorist hacking depicted in the USA film "Die Hard 4", warning that China's role in global trade and internet connectivity opened it to increased risks from overseas. If you're running a new operating system and are sure to keep it properly updated, your Windows and Apple laptops and desktops will be equally secure. If your computer is infected by WannaCry, experts agree the best solution is to wipe it clean and restore it from a recent backup.

"People have extremely short memories when it comes to this", said Jan Dawson, an analyst with Jackdaw Research.

WannaCry, like the majority of ransomware and malware will arrive under your radar, as an email attachment or as a download on your PC. Starting first in the United Kingdom and Spain, the malicious "WannaCrypt" software quickly spread globally, blocking customers from their data unless they paid a ransom using Bitcoin.

Also, instead of alerting software companies that it had found an error, the USA government identified the WannaCry cyberattack and then let important documents about the attack slip through their fingers. The company has over 3,500 security engineers working nonstop to eliminate threats, but it admitted that it still has lessons to learn, especially with the propagation of WannaCry.

The one consistent thing here is that it is Microsoft Windows that is vulnerable - or, at least, out of date versions of the operating system.

Yet security flaws in older editions of Windows persist.

"Companies like Microsoft should discard the idea that they can abandon people using older software", Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the school of information and library science at the University of North Carolina, wrote in a New York Times opinion piece over the weekend.

However, proof positive of just how bad the spread of "WannaCry" has been, the company did something it hasn't done in years: released a security patch for Windows XP. "The money they made from these customers hasn't expired; neither has their responsibility to fix defects".

Because this attack is so contagious - it self-propagates, slithering from computer to computer without any human help - Microsoft decided it had to build a patch for that antique system too. According to ProofPoint, the main motive for ransomware is profit. "When something happens, the finger gets pointed at the attacker, not at Microsoft", Ad Age quoted Pike as saying.

  • Zachary Reyes