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SECURITY ALERT: Massive ransomware attack across Europe

There is breaking news of a massive ransomware attack which is impacting computer system across Europe.  The ransomware variant – being called “WannaCry” – has so far had the widest reported spread in Russia, England and Spain, but it is also reported in a number of other countries.

Details of the attack are still developing.  It is reported that data on the infected computer is encrypted and the user is notified that they have 12 hours to pay the ransom or lose their data permanently.  The ransom demand increases after a few hours.  It has also been reported that the malware has a “hunter” mode.  Once installed on a victim’s computer, the software searches the networks to which the infected computer is attached for other vulnerable systems and launches an attack on those as well.  The software uses an exploit called DOUBLEPULSAR which is among those recently released by WikiLeaks and attributed to the NSA.

The ransomware attacks computers running the Windows OS.  However, it exploits a security vulnerability for which Microsoft has already released a patch.  Computers which have run all Microsoft updates are protected against this malware.  Please take time to check your computer to assure that Microsoft updates have been installed.  Under Windows 10, select the Settings icon from your Windows menu, then click on “Updates & Security” to find the Windows Update link.  For other Windows versions, look for the “Microsoft Update” item on the Windows Start menu.

Consult CNN or C|net news for updated details regarding this threat as the story continues to develop.