The recent cyber attacks against windows machines are prompting companies to upgrade to Microsoft’s latest version of the operating system. It would be a good idea to buy Microsoft shares right about now. Analyst Michael Nemeroff gave a short warning to clients, “If you’re not current, you’re toast.”
The ransomware attack exploits a flaw in Windows and while this is serious, it not only shows the continued ubiquity of the firm, but it also demonstrates a number of corporations that were affected are still using the older and currently unsupported versions of Windows, and that they need to hasten their efforts to upgrade their software packages.
The subject of all of this hassle, the WannaCry worm has affected at least 200,000 Windows machines around the globe since Friday, leading to the disruption of systems from FedEX corp to Britain’s National Health Service and even car factories.
The hacking software spreads in silence among computers within a system and shuts them down by encrypting data and then demanding a $300 ransom to unlock them. Apparently, the computers which were affected by the ransom-ware were not protected by security patches for a number of Windows versions installed, or at the time, running Windows XP, which is antiquated to the point Microsoft no longer provides support for it.
This raises another debate according to Christopher Dore, a lawyer in the digital privacy field. It seems to be an act of almost deliberate negligence on the part of the firms to let the systems continue to be operational in their current state. In fact enterprises may face legal claims if they failed to come through on their end of services because of the ransomware attack. There is a stream of liability which comes from the attack which is linked to individuals, consumers and patients.
WannaCry exploits a weakness within the older versions of Windows 7 and XP. Microsoft provided a security update in March which stops the ransomware and other malware in Windows 7. Over the weekend, the firm decided to also release a similar patch for the XP system which the firm announced in 2014, it was no longer going to support.
Microsoft is not Liable
Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer, Brad Smith, explicitly told clients to update their software, but also pointed a finger at the National Security Agency and the governments that tech firms have conflicted over privacy issues.
Windows is the majority player in 90 percent of personal computers and has become vulnerable to a number of exploits done over the years. Though, Brad was partly right, the incident has shown the government is keener to attack enemies rather than defend its own citizens or make sure they are not exposed.
The clear advantage for Microsoft is it was prepared for what happened. It had done a patch for the ransomware in March and it rolled it out to millions of their machines. At the same time, the majority of those caught pants down were running operating systems that Microsoft itself had basically decommissioned.
For these reasons, it is not likely to face legal issues concerning the flaws in Windows being taken advantage of by the ransomware. Similarly, when Microsoft sells software, it does it using a licensing agreement which states the firm is not liable for security breaches.