Cyber attacks: Microsoft hits out at governments "stockpiling vulnerabilities" calling Wannacry ransomeware a "wake-up call"

Lynsey Barber
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More victims may be identified as people return to work on Monday (Source: Getty)

Microsoft has hit out at governments for the "stockpiling of vulnerabilities" likening it to "US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen" after the global cyber attack which struck over the weekend, crippling some hospital services and businesses across the world.

In a blog post, the company's president and chief legal officer Brad Smith said:

Governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call. They need to take a different approach and adhere in cyberspace to the same rules applied to weapons in the physical world.

Read more: Europol boss praises banks' cyber strategy after global attack

Researchers believe the ransomware exploits a vulnerability which was revealed in leaked documents allegedly detailing the tools used by the US' National Security Agency (NSA) to access computers.

Experts have warned businesses to brace themselves for an escalation in the unprecedented global cyber attack which struck the NHS, O2 owner Telefonica, Nissan, Renault, FedEx, the Russian Interior Ministry, German train operator Deutsche Bahn and Portugal Telecom, among many others.

“At the moment, we are in the face of an escalating threat. The numbers are going up, I am worried about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn on their machines on Monday morning,” Europol director Robin Wainwright said yesterday.

And the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre said: “It is important to understand that the way these attacks work means that compromises of machines and networks that have already occurred may not yet have been detected, and that existing infections from the malware can spread within networks.

Read more: UK government defends spending on NHS cyber security after global attack

This means that as a new working week begins it is likely, in the UK and elsewhere, that further cases of ransomware may come to light, possibly at a significant scale.

More than 200,000 victims in 150 countries have been identified by the agency as being affected by the “Wannacry” ransomware, which locks key computer files until a ransom is paid in bitcoin.

The government is facing questions over how the NHS was left vulnerable to an attack. Defence secretary Michael Fallon yesterday defended its spending on protecting from cyber threats.

But Jeremy Hunt has been accused of ignoring warnings over the need to update the health service's security.

The health secretary, along with home secretary Amber Rudd, is expected to chair a second emergency Cobra meeting with top officials today in response to the attacks.

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