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Yesterday, a major cyber attack threatened global business. Today, there’s a vaccine for it.

Tim Wang-CC
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Although it won’t prevent the spread of the virus...

The second major cyber attack in two months hit global business yesterday, forcing port operator Maersk, the French bank BNP Paribas, and a Cadbury plant in Australia to halt their operations. Also, the Russian oil company (Rosneft), a hospital in Pittsburgh, and several Ukrainian banks and other international companies operating in Ukraine were attacked by this “computer worm,” which demanded $300 worth of bitcoin to allow users regain access to their files.

These attacks, which encrypt hard drives and overwrite files, can be stopped, yet not killed. According to Dave Lee’s report for BBC, security researchers have discovered a ‘vaccine’ which might protect a computer from being infected by one of these ransomwares, although it cannot prevent the attack from spreading to other computers in its network: “By creating a read-only file named perfc,” Lee explains, “and placing it within a computer’s “C:\Windows” folder, the attack will be stopped in its tracks.” The security news website Bleeping Computer, Lee continues, published an explanation on how to create such file, which you can find here.

Even though the method is effective, again, it can only protect the computer in which the read-only file is located. Security experts are still at work, trying to develop a “switch” that can stop such spreads the moment they are detected.

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