Another large-scale cyberattack underway

Dhaka,  Sat,  22 July 2017
Published : 18 May 2017, 00:27:33
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Another large-scale cyberattack underway

Asian nations scramble to put up defence
PARIS, May 17 (Agencies):  Another large-scale, stealthy cyberattack is underway on a scale that could dwarf last week's assault on computers worldwide, a global cybersecurity firm told AFP on Wednesday.

The new attack targets the same vulnerabilities the WannaCry ransomware worm exploited but, rather than freeze files, uses the hundreds of thousands of computers believed to have been infected to mine virtual currency.

Following the detection of the WannaCry attack on Friday, "researchers at Proofpoint discovered a new attack linked to WannaCry called Adylkuzz," said Nicolas Godier, a researcher at the computer security firm.

"It uses the hacking tools recently disclosed by the NSA and which have since been fixed by Microsoft in a more stealthy manner and for a different purpose," he said.

Instead of completely disabling an infected computer by encrypting data and seeking a ransom payment, Adylkuzz uses the machines it infects to "mine" in a background task a virtual currency, Monero, and transfer the money created to the authors of the virus.

Virtual currencies such as Monero and Bitcoin use the computers of volunteers for recording transactions.

Meanwhile another report from Singapore adds: Asian countries have managed to escape the global ransomware attacks over the weekend largely unscathed, but they are well aware of their vulnerabilities amid the growing popularity of smartphones and work culture in the region.

Responding to the news of the widespread cyberattacks, Thailand's National Reform Steering Assembly has proposed the immediate creation of a cybersecurity committee to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha. This national committee would have the power to access networks thought to have weak security in order to take preventative defensive measures.

Authorities in Singapore and Malaysia issued statements when the impact of ransomware attacks in the West was made known Saturday, informing citizens how to cope with the problem and saying they would take measures to prevent the damage from spreading.

Asia appears to have avoided major damage. But authorities responded quickly, aware that similar attacks could inflict widespread harm.

"Because of the timing of the first wave of emails that went out, it hit the Europeans first," said Nick Savvides, a security advocate for Asia-Pacific and Japan at US cybersecurity company Symantec.

By the following day, Savvides said, "more protections had been put in place by organizations" in Asia. The sense was that Asia had a lucky escape, not that the region was more secure than Europe in cyber defense.
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