The way things are moving forward in the technological age creates an environment where all of us are specifically vulnerable to infiltration of malware and viruses. The leaked cyber-weapon that the NSA lost control of, which was subsequently pushed further onto the public by a group known as Shadow Brokers, is wreaking havoc around the world. The way this complex but simple to understand piece of technology works is that it infiltrates your computer, encrypts your files, and then demands a ransom payment in Bitcoin to release the files.
This is no benign little program; having weapons of this magnitude on the loose is how ransomware becomes a global threat. There are computers being infected all over the world with 200,000 victims in 150 countries hit just this weekend.
Microsoft has released a patch that protects those who have older versions of windows so that they can protect themselves from attack but those who have already been affected don’t have any real recourse. The best thing to do in some cases is just to pay the ransom and move on with your life, salvaging what you can and protecting yourself better in the future.
What’s so concerning about this is that the NSA lost control of countless cyberweapons and kept it quiet. It begs the questions of whether or not it’s a good idea to trust that they haven’t lost more and clearly points to the fact that they wouldn’t tell us if they did.
Microsoft slammed the NSA saying that ransomware becomes a global threat when companies are not made aware of leaks. Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer for Microsoft, made several statements in a blog post yesterday which detailed the position of the company is helping its customers counteract the problem.
Smith shamed the government security apparatus saying “his attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem” and also pointed to this being an ongoing problem that needs to be looked into. He went on further to relate this type of leak as being similar to losing control of Tomahawk missiles and said that this should be a “wake-up call”.
Though Smith had quite a bit to say about how, increasingly, ransomware becomes a global threat every day, there didn’t seem to be much hope for any feet held to the fire at the NSA. It will most likely be the latest round of the NSA citing lack of honor and loyalty to the government by its contractors but the real issue is systemic.
Ongoing Leaks Never Seem To Stop
With Wikileaks publishing the #Vault7 documents and the vast treasure trove of information leaked by Edward Snowden, there is no shortage of embarrassment for the NSA and CIA. The FBI is another story as they don’t seem to accomplish much in the first place, so their lack of leaks is not surprising.
The point of this focus is that there is seemingly a constant stream of classified, and highly classified at that, information pouring out of the NSA and there is nobody who is held accountable. In the case of Edward Snowden, they had someone to readily take the blame but there was no recourse internally and no real explanation as to how a private contractor had access to all of the information in the first place.
It’s about time someone was forced to step down or someone actually took proper heat for these atrocities against humanity.
You might not think that when ransomware becomes a global threat that it does any real harm to you aside from a small monetary blip in the radar but I’m here to tell you that this isn’t the case.
There is a cascade effect when something like this happens. Just because you have a more updated system of your own that is safe and you’re an American businessman, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be unaffected. Perhaps your textile supplier in Bangladesh has Windows XP and now shipments are delayed, now you have to wait for your order an extra week, upsetting the retailers you distribute to. The same story repeats in China, Turkey, etc. It doesn’t seem like a big deal now but the list goes on and on. The domino effect of supply chain delays are serious and third world producers often can’t handle any interruptions as competition is tight already.
Lives are affected and as ransomware becomes a global threat with more frequency, we all need to pay attention. Time will tell if there is any accountability at the NSA and we see some heads roll but for now, look out for yourself and keep your personal security tight.