Communications Authority sends alert on global cyber attack

Communications Authority of Kenya Director General Francis Wangusi. (Photo: Andrew Kilonzi, Standard)

A massive cyber-attack that locks files in a computer until the owner pays ransom that has been infecting computers around the world has found its way into the country. The Government has admitted receiving reports of attacks.

The ‘Wannacry’ malware is behind a massive disruption of medical services in England and Scotland after attacking the servers of the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK has already spread to some 99 countries.

The Communications Authority (CA) has advised Kenyans to keep a backup of all their files offline to ensure that they can restore them in case they are attacked. Once a computer has been attacked, users cannot access their files unless they pay a $300 (Sh30,000) ransom to a Bit Coin account.

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Payment of the ransom however does not guarantee that the files will be restored as the BBC reported about an incident in the UK where medical personnel saw their computer go down one by one after being attacked by the virus believed to have been created by tools stolen from America’s National Security Agency (NSA).

The BBC Saturday reported that the NSA tools whose key role was to check vulnerabilities on Windows systems, “were stolen by a group of hackers known as The Shadow Brokers.”

CA’s boss Francis Wangusi said Saturday that “Once a computer has been affected, it tries to infect other computer within the same network”.

“The ransom ware virus, which goes by the name Winery or WannaCrypt0r or WanaDecrypt0r, has been reported to have infected tens of thousands in many countries around the world and continues to spread,” he said.

Most at risk are those using computers running on old Windows operating systems especially Windows XP. Microsoft however has said it would roll out the update to users of older operating systems.

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It is still not known who is behind the attacks but unlike most of the malicious programs which depend on humans to spread them by tricking them into clicking on to an attachment, Ransom ware has the ability to move around a network looking for computers to attack.

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Communications Authority of Kenyaransomwarecyber attack