After the global cyberattack last week that affected more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries, officials have claimed the threat of ransomware is “unprecedented”.
In a scathing blog post on the matter, Microsoft president Brad Smith said the attack should serve as a “wake-up call” to the US and other governments, to redouble their efforts to defend against such attacks.
He wrote: “They need to take a different approach and adhere in cyberspace to the same rules applied to weapons in the physical world.
“We need governments to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits.”
Mr Smith also urged Windows users to update their systems to help protect their data from cyberattacks, adding that Friday’s incident “demonstrates the degree to which cybersecurity has become a shared responsibility between tech companies and customers”.
Dr Binoy Kampmark, a senior lecturer at RMIT University in Melbourne, said although the tactics used in the ‘WannaCry’ attack were not new, it had not been performed to such a scale before and was likely to happen again.
He said: “The reality is that these particular systems are going to be used, more will be coming out because this is after all a new frontier – we are set to deal with matters of security in this way, which connect intelligence agencies but also those in the private sector.
“So, we are concerned essentially about security of data both in a private and a public sense, so we can expect more of that, I’m afraid.”
In an interview on ITV’s Peston on Sunday, Europe Executive Director Rob Wainwright said: “We’ve seen the rise of ransomware becoming the principle threat, I think, but this is something we haven’t seen before – the global reach is unprecedented.”
The computers affected in Friday’s attack were inflicted with a form of “ransomware”, encrypting files and rendering them inaccessible until a £230 ($ 300) ransom was paid to the attacker in the cryptocurrency bitcoin.
At least £39,000 ($ 50,000) in ransom has been paid so far, and is expected to rise.