Software giant, Microsoft, is currently patching older versions of Windows operating system (OS) to check potential attacks against governments and organisations in foreign countries outside the United States.
The company’s Security Manager, Adrienne Hall, announced the move yesterday via a blog post, saying that in May, the firm took what it called the “highly unusual” step of patching older Windows versions like XP against the WannaCrypt Ransomware virus.
Her words: “It is doing the same in June to protect against attacks that are potentially even more sinister. This month, some vulnerabilities were identified that pose elevated risk of cyber attacks by government organisations, sometimes referred to as nation-state actors or other copycat organisations.”
The software firm further explained that anyone using current, supported versions of Windows, including Windows 7, 8.1 and 10 or Windows Server versions between 2008 and 2016 will have “your systems automatically update, assuming you have that feature enabled (or you can download the patches here). If you have versions without extended support, including Windows XP, Vista, 8 or Server 2003, you will need to download and install the patches manually.”
Hall noted that Microsoft made the patches available to all customers “because applying these updates provides further protection against potential attacks with characteristics similar to WannaCrypt.”
Last month, WannaCrypt attacked older computer systems, including those used by the United Kingdom National Health System, causing cancelled surgeries and other chaos. The highly sophisticated software, distributed by the Russian-linked Shadow Brokers team, was reportedly purloined from the United States Department of Homeland Security’s cache of hacking tools. Microsoft subsequently excoriated the agency, saying that letting its spy tools fall into an enemy’s hand was like “the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen.”
The Guardian gathered that Microsoft business is estimated in the region $100 million in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Information Security Society of Africa-Nigeria (ISSAN) has cautioned Nigerians against making any payment to cyber attackers in the event of Ransomware attacks.