'WannaCry' cyberattack: How to prevent being attacked

Huge cyberattack forces Microsoft to offer free tech fix

FACTBOX: What is the 'ransomware' WannaCry worm?

The vulnerability has been known since February, when Microsoft cancelled its monthly Patch Tuesday deployment to address the problem.

In the United Kingdom, hospitals were crippled by the cyberattack, which forced operations to be canceled and ambulances to be diverted. Here in the U.S. FedEx Corp. was hit with the cyber-attack, while in Russian Federation the Interior Ministry was held ransom and in Spain, company Telefonica got hit. But, in what some have been calling the biggest cyberattack ever, the recent "Wannacry" ransomware apparently seeks out computers containing a vulnerability in the Microsoft Windows operating system, which permitted the ransomware to infect approximately 200,000 computers in 150 countries across the globe. The attack mostly impacted computers in Europe and Asia and for the most part spared North America.

"Using outdated versions of Windows that are no longer supported raises a lot of questions", said Christopher Dore, a lawyer specializing in digital privacy law at Edelson PC.

Generally a popup will appear if there is an update available but you can also force the computer to check for updates. Due to the severity of the threat, which has already locked countless worldwide systems, those running older versions of Windows should apply the patch as soon as possible.

"This decision was made based on an assessment of this situation, with the principle of protecting our customer ecosystem overall, firmly in mind", Phillip Misner, Principal Security Group Manager at Microsoft Security Response Centert stated in an advisory on WannaCry.

Corporates are internally trying to resolve it through their IT team and those who have not got any back up of their data are resorting to paying the ransom through bitcoin.

First, install any software updates immediately and make it a regular habit.

Matthew Hickey, cofounder of security firm My Hacker House, created a virtual inoculation for companies to use to prevent ransomware while they work on patching.

"It's very important everyone understands that all they (the hackers) need to do is change some code and start again". A security researcher who goes by the name MalwareTech has activated a sort of kill-switch in WannaCry that stops it from spreading. And just as they are unlikely to pay for an upgrade to their operating systems, they may not want to - or be able to - pay for security fixes.

Microsoft itself is unlikely to face legal trouble over the flaw in Windows being exploited by WannaCry, according to legal experts.

While Mr MacGibbon said Australia looks to have missed the worst of the attack as it didn't seem to have infected government agencies or critical infrastructure, people shouldn't be complacent.

Latest News