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No, Windows XP didn't fuel WannaCry


In the previous part of this series, we looked at the countries that were hit the hardest by WannaCry ransomware. "They focused on the most-widespread platform", said Raiu.

It was also noted that instead of releasing the security updates for free, Microsoft reportedly charged some customers an annual fee of $1,000 for the protection of their computers.

"Some organisations just aren't aware of the risks; some don't want to risk interrupting important business processes; sometimes they are short-staffed", said Ziv Mador, vice president of security research at Trustwave's Israeli SpiderLabs unit.

Individual machines could be infected - the researchers and testers who put WannaCry on Windows XP systems likely ran it manually - but the worm-like attack code would not spread from an XP PC, and in some cases, executing the exploit crashed the computer. According to the BBC, more than 97% of the infections Kaspersky Lab has seen were on machines running on Windows 7, while security ratings firm BitSight said 66% of the infections it saw were machines running on it. Worst hit - Windows 7 x64. As we have mentioned many times, the patches for this vulnerability were launched last March and being an operating system that still has support, if users had installed such updates then they would not have been infected by this ransomware.

Those hit by WannaCry also failed to heed warnings past year from Microsoft to disable a file sharing feature in Windows known as SMB, which a covert hacker group calling itself Shadow Brokers had claimed was used by NSA intelligence operatives to sneak into Windows PCs.

Other versions of Windows were not as vulnerable, although not always for the right reasons.

"The attackers initiated an operation to hunt down vulnerable public facing SMB ports and, once located, used the newly available SMB exploits to deploy malware and propagate to other vulnerable machines within connected networks", he wrote. The British government cancelled a nationwide NHS support contract with Microsoft after a year, leaving upgrades to local trusts.

It was unclear whether the disparity reflected Kaspersky security software placement - in, say, far more PCs running the 64-bit version of Windows - the prevalence of 64-bit over 32-bit at this point, or a more efficient spreading mechanism of WannaCry under a 64-bit OS. The weakness was initially found by the National Security Agency (NSA) to keep an eye on users.

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