Old Windows PCs can stop WannaCry ransomware with new Microsoft patch

It had said that an unauthenticated attacker could exploit these vulnerabilities by sending specially crafted packets to the targeted server. Europol that said the malware has claimed some 200,000 victims across 150 countries and that the numbers are still going up.

He added that the attack was a powerful reminder that information technology basics such as keeping computers current and patched were a high responsibility for everyone, and that it was something every organisation's top executive should support.

Before we get to those questions, let's start at the very beginning.

"This kind of ransomware attack has been becoming much more common in recent months so in a way it's perhaps no surprise".

G7 finance ministers meeting in Italy discussed the attacks and were expected to commit to stepping up global cooperation against a growing threat to their economies.

It's important to note that this type of attack happens quite often and can target consumers as well as businesses.

The malware spread quickly on Friday, with medical staff in the United Kingdom reportedly seeing computers go down "one by one".

Images appeared on victims' screens demanding payment of $300 (275 euros) in Bitcoin, saying: "Ooops, your files have been encrypted!"

The reports show that the virus, which is also known as WanaCrypt0r, WCry, Wana Decrypt0r, and WannaCrypt, has hit more than 100 countries in less than 24 hours so far.

The ransomware which took control of users' files, spread to 100 countries, including Spain, France and Russian Federation. Banks, the state-owned railways and a mobile phone network were hit.

Investigators are working to track down those responsible for the ransomware used on Friday, known as Wanna Decryptor or WannaCry. It also displays message to pay certain amount to unlock the locked filed.

Although Microsoft released a security patch for the flaw earlier this year, many systems have yet to be updated, researchers said. Simply because many users and organizations are slow to catch up with security updates and practices.

Windows 10, the latest version of Microsoft's flagship operating system franchise, accounts for another 15 percent, while older versions of Windows including 8.1, 8, XP and Vista, account for the remainder, BitSight estimated.

Krishna Chinthapalli, a doctor at Britain's National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery who wrote a paper on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal, said many British hospitals still use Windows XP software, introduced in 2001. An global manhunt is now underway to try and track the hacker or hackers down.

Yestreday, a security researcher found a "kill switch" which could prevent the spread of the WannaCry ransomware.

Computers and networks that hadn't recently updated their systems are still at risk because the ransomware is lurking.

He first noticed that the malware was trying to contact an unusual web address but this address was not connected to a website, because nobody had registered it.

MalwareTech chose to spend £8.50 ($11) and claim the web address. He unexpectedly triggered part of the ransomware's code that instructed it to stop spreading.

"I think the security industry as a whole should be considered heroes", Huss said, but also cautioned others that the criminals could re-launch the extortion scheme - this time without a kill switch, or a better hidden one.

Before Friday's attack, Microsoft had made fixes for older systems, such as 2001's Windows XP, available only to mostly larger organizations that paid extra for extended technical support.

It asked users not to open attachments in unsolicited e-mails, even if they come from people in your contact list, and never click on a URL contained in an unsolicited e-mail, even if the link seems benign.