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Available Expert - WannaCry ransomware attack

Monday, May 15, 2017

Queen's University security and surveillance expert David Murakami Wood is available to comment on the WannaCry ransomware attack. On Friday, May 12, a cyber attack was launched using the program, infecting more than 230,000 computers in 150 countries. The attackers have demanded ransom payments in the cryptocurrency bitcoin to allow users to regain access to their data. Impacted organizations include hospitals, banks, corporations and private citizens.

"While this is a criminal action, both intelligence agencies and Microsoft are largely to blame for the extent of the attack," says Dr. Murakami Wood. "In addition, the spread of the attack highlights the question of whether we should connect vital services like healthcare so carelessly."

Dr. Murakami Wood says that the ransomware used in the attack was developed from vulnerabilities discovered in attack tools leaked from the National Security Agency to the so-called Shadow Brokers. Microsoft has refused to keep issuing security updates for older versions of Windows, resulting in increased vulnurability to attacks as corporations and government organizations are often not using the latest operating systems. He also says that the attack highlights the dependancy of some nations' healthcare systems on connected digital records, and says the attack raises questionas as to whether it is necessary to connect "everything" to the internet.

Dr. David Murakami Wood is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at Queen's University and is the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Surveillance Studies. 

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