WannaCry creators could let Taiwan off the hook – CNET

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The WannaCry ransomware that hit the world Friday has affected 150 countries.

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As the world freaks out over the potential loss of massive amounts of data, Taiwan may escape unscathed.

On Sunday, the creators of WannaCry ransomware allegedly decided they’ll let some Taiwanese victims off the hook, according to Singapore media outlet Channel 8 News.

In an email captured in a screenshot submitted by an affected user from Taiwan who claimed to earn only $400 a month, the creators of WannaCry said they realised their campaign was a “total failure” in the country and will decrypt the data of some affected Taiwanese at no charge.

They attributed the reason for the failure to having “overestimated [the] income” of the Taiwanese.

The country’s median income was reported at $1,344 last year.

Will other Asian countries, which typically run older, unpatched versions of Windows vulnerable to the ransomware, potentially be treated like Taiwan?

The ransomware was released worldwide Friday. It has hit over 100,000 organisations across 150 countries as of Sunday.

Affected users find their files locked with an error message demanding a ransom of $300 in Bitcoin currency by this Friday to recover their data, which will otherwise be deleted.

It has created frustrations both small and large:

Baburah Varma, technical director in Southeast Asia and India for cybersecurity firm Trend Micro, said that Asia may be hit harder than other regions because WannaCry “exploits systems with a Microsoft vulnerability in older versions of the OS.”

Data backup and recovery company Acronis sees it differently. Eugene Aseev, vice president of engineering at Acronis Singapore, said Asian countries — excluding China — appear to be less affected than other parts of the world possibly because they’re “less desirable targets.” He explained that sensitive data is usually stored at company headquarters and R&D facilities, which are more commonly in countries such as US, Europe, Russia and China.

Microsoft declined to comment.

Regardless, no one should be letting their guard down. A fresh round of attacks have begun as the workweek kicks in, this time without the “kill switch” that delayed the spread of the malware. The easiest way to keep yourself safe now is to make sure your computer is updated with the latest patch from Microsoft.

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