×

Microsoft Blames Spy Agencies for Ransomware Disaster

Microsoft didn’t hold back in a response to this weekend’s massive ransomware attack, which by latest estimates has infected and knocked out more than 200,000 computers worldwide. The software giant squarely but the blame on spy agencies for such incidents in a blog post published by Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith Sunday. “The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call,” Smith wrote.

Microsoft is blaming the NSA in particular, because the exploit used for the attack was first discovered by a paid contractor of the spy agency, and afterwards kept secret to be used for future surveillance. The NSA stockpiled a number of such cyber weapons, only to see hackers steal them and leak them online this year.

“We need governments to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits,” Smith wrote. “This most recent attack represents a completely unintended but disconcerting link between the two most serious forms of cybersecurity threats in the world today – nation-state action and organized criminal action.”

“This is one reason we called in February for a new ‘Digital Geneva Convention’ to govern these issues, including a new requirement for governments to report vulnerabilities to vendors, rather than stockpile, sell, or exploit them,” he continued. “We should take from this recent attack a renewed determination for more urgent collective action. We need the tech sector, customers, and governments to work together to protect against cybersecurity attacks.”

Microsoft released a patch for the vulnerability exploited in this weekend’s ransomware attack last month after it surfaced on Wikileaks.

However, many users didn’t immediately update their computers. Hardest hit have been users of old and outdated operating systems, which in many cases included specialized applications. This led to massive outages at U.K. healthcare providers, and Twitter users posted photos of hacked public transit signage.

Security researchers were able to stop the flow of new infections this weekend after discovering a kind of kill switch, but there are concerns that new versions could flare up again this week. For its part, Microsoft said that its 3500 security engineers have been working hard to put an end to this specific attack. As part of this, Microsoft also issued patches for older versions of Windows that it hasn’t officially been supporting anymore.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • iQIYI headquarters building in Beijing

    China’s iQIYI in Talks for Indonesia Expansion

    Chinese streaming firm iQIYI is in negotiations to expand further into Southeast Asia through a venture with Indonesia’s Media Nusantara Citra. iQIYI announced its first step outside Chinese-majority territories in June, when it revealed a linkup in Malaysia with pay-TV leader Astro. It also operates in Taiwan. In April, the company said that it planned [...]

  • Spotify logo is presented on a

    Spotify Triples Free-Trial Period on Premium Service

    Spotify today extended the free-trial period for its Premium service from one month to three, tripling the amount of time listeners can take full advantage of the streaming giant’s offerings without paying for them. According to the announcement, the offer is “always-on/not limited time,” and will roll out across Spotify Premium plans globally: Individual and [...]

  • Moviepass

    MoviePass Confirms Security Lapse May Have Exposed Customer Credit Card Data

    MoviePass, the struggling movie ticket subscription service, confirmed that a security issue may have exposed customers’ records online, including credit card info. In a statement, MoviePass said Wednesday that the security lapse was recently discovered and its system was immediately secured. News of the data breach was first reported Tuesday by TechCrunch, which alleged that [...]

  • Tycho weather app

    This Website Creates Spotify & Apple Music Playlists Based on Your Local Weather

    Electronica musician Tycho launched a clever promotional website for his new album “Weather” this week: Visitors of Tycho’s website can use a web app to generate a playlist based on their local weather. Playlists can be saved to both Spotify and Apple Music, and consist of 25 songs, both from Tycho’s catalog as well as [...]

  • AT&T TV

    AT&T TV: An Unskinny Streaming Bundle That Looks a Lot Like Traditional Pay TV

    AT&T this week launched AT&T TV, a new subscription streaming television service that uses an Android-based internet set-top, in 10 markets. But the way it’s priced and packaged looks very similar to cable and satellite TV services — in other words, AT&T TV isn’t targeted at the cord-cutter crowd. It’s basically designed as a way [...]

  • Sofia Wylie arrives at Variety's Power

    Disney Channel Enlists Duplass Brothers for YouTube Hip-Hop Dance Series Starring Sofia Wylie

    Disney Channel’s first original scripted series made exclusively for release on YouTube is “Shook,” a hip-hop dance short-form series starring Sofia Wylie, produced by Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass. “Shook” will debut Saturday, Sept. 28, on Disney Channel’s YouTube channel. The scripted single-camera show centers on 15-year-old Mia (Wylie), who yearns to dance professionally but [...]

  • YouTube logo

    YouTube Is Getting Rid of Messaging Feature

    YouTube is killing off a feature that allowed users to share videos and other messages with each other. YouTube Messages, which was first introduced in January of 2017, will be turned off by September 18, the company announced this week. “We’re constantly reevaluating our priorities and have decided to discontinue YouTube’s native direct messaging feature [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content