Cybercrime: A large-scale cyber attack highlights the structural dilemma of the NSA

 

IN BRITAIN, doctors could neither gain access their patients’ files nor make appointments to see those patients. In Russia, hundreds of the interior ministry’s workers sat idle. In China, students were locked out of their theses. As the latest cyber attack rippled around the globe, infecting at least 45,000 computers in 74 countries, according to Kaspersky Labs, a Russian cyber-security firm, it seemed for a moment that the world was facing digital apocalypse. In the event, catastrophe was averted when somebody found a kill switch, which stopped the malicious software involved spreading further. The attackers will still make a pretty penny, however, and untold hours will have to be spent cleaning up the mess. What is more galling than that is that all of this was entirely avoidable.

From the victims’ perspective, the Great Cyber Attack of May 12th was a typical, if widespread, example of extortion by “ransomware”, to which users of Microsoft’s Windows operating system are particularly vulnerable. After they had …

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Source: The Economist