Virus attack is a wake-up call for business

Microsoft tries to duck the blame over the Wannacry ransomware that has infected over 200,000 computers worldwide.


The Wannacry ransomware infected 200,000 computers
(Image credit: Andrew BrookesAB Still Ltd)

Last Friday's "WannaCry" ransomware attack, which hit 200,000 computers in 150 countries, disrupting the NHS and other organisations, should be a wake-up call to governments, companies and individuals to do more to increase "cyber hygiene", says Julian King in the Financial Times, with the scale of business losses estimated at $4bn by some experts and that's before you "consider the threat" to democractic institutions.

Ironically, one organisation that stands to benefit is Microsoft, which owns the targeted operating system, says John Gapper, also in the FT. A blog from Microsoft president Brad Smith was a "masterclass in pursuing Microsoft's interests while invoking a noble mission". He reminded people to update software, pointing out that Microsoft had released a patch for the WannaCry vulnerability in March. He also "took a shot" at the US National Security Agency, whose leaked technology helped the virus spread so rapidly in the first place.

Shame on Microsoft, says Chris Merriman in The Inquirer. Yes, the company did release a patch, but it's hard to blame the NHS for not updating (and The Times' Mark Bridge points out, NHS Digital had issued a warning to use the patch on 25 April). It quite rightly concentrates its resources on "healing the sick".

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More than 52% of businesses worldwide are running at least one instance of XP, and it takes just one out-of-date system in a network to put it at risk. If you're serious about this "wake-up call", Microsoft, use your dominant market position to find better ways of tackling the security problem.

Emily Hohler

Emily has extensive experience in the world of journalism. She has worked on MoneyWeek for more than 20 years as a former assistant editor and writer. Emily has previously worked on titles including The Times as a Deputy Features Editor, Commissioning Editor at The Independent Sunday Review, The Daily Telegraph, and she spent three years at women's lifestyle magazine Marie Claire as a features writer for three years, early on in her career. 

On MoneyWeek, Emily’s coverage includes Brexit and global markets such as Russia and China. Aside from her writing, Emily is a Nutritional Therapist and she runs her own business called Root Branch Nutrition in Oxfordshire, where she offers consultations and workshops on nutrition and health.