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Held at Ransom: on the recent Ransomware Attacks

The malware attack this weekend must hasten moves towards global rules on cyber threats

The menacing spread, starting last Friday, of the malicious software WannaCry, which has since infected thousands of computer systems in 150 countries, is a frightening reminder of the vulnerabilities of a connected world. The cyber-attackers who unleashed it, as yet unknown, have essentially used chinks in Microsoft’s outdated software to remotely gain access to computers of unsuspecting users so as to lock them out of their files. These attacks have been in the nature of what are called ‘ransomware,’ wherein attackers demand a ransom (usually in Bitcoins, which are tougher to trace than regular currency) to decrypt the files they have force-encrypted. Cyber risk modelling firm Cyence estimates the economic damage to be $4 billion, a figure that may not seem daunting for a global-scale disruption such as this one. But its spread has exposed the lack of preparedness among government and private institutions. The list of unsuspecting users who fell prey to the malware includes the U.K.’s National Health Service, German transport company Deutsche Bahn, courier delivery services company FedEx and carmaker Renault. Only some weeks earlier Microsoft had made available a patch to remove the chinks, something that raises doubts over whether even large institutions are complacent on cyber risks. That governments across the world went on alert after the outbreak of the global ‘epidemic’ is some consolation. So is the fact that Indian institutions have been largely unscathed by the malware until now. Things, however, could have been worse had a British researcher not registered a domain name hidden in the malware, thereby accidentally stopping its spread as also its momentum..........Continue Reading (THE HINDU)

IMPORTANT WORDS & THEIR MEANING FROM ARTICLE

1) Menacing (खतरनाक) - Men-ace-ing
Meaning - suggesting the presence of danger, threatening - Adjective
Synonyms - dangerous, threatening
Antonyms - remote, helping
Example - At night, the dark streets become menacing.

2) Malicious (दुर्भावनापूर्ण) - Mal-ici-us
Meaning - characterized by malice, intending or intended to do harm - Adjective
Synonyms - spiteful, hostile
Antonyms - decent, friendly
Example - He complained that he'd been receiving malicious telephone calls.

3) Vulnerability (आलोचनीयता) - vul-ner-ability
Meaning - the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally - Noun
Synonyms - debt, blame
Antonyms - aid, asset
Example - The earthquake highlighted the vulnerability of elevated highways.

4) Unleashed (फैलाया) - Un-leash-ed
Meaning - release from a leash - Verb
Synonyms - discharge, free
Antonyms - hold, keep
Example - At worst, nuclear war could be unleashed.

5) Decrypt (डिक्रिप्ट) - De-cry-pt
Meaning - make (a coded or unclear message) intelligible - Verb
a text that has been decoded - Noun
Synonyms - break, crack
Antonyms - fix, mend
Example - Only certain employees will be able to decrypt sensitive documents.

6) Daunting (कठिन) - Daunt-ing
Meaning - seeming difficult to deal with in prospect, intimidating - Adjective
Synonyms - formidable, insettling
Antonyms - assist, calm
Example - The prospect of meeting the President is quite daunting.

7) Unscathed (पूरा हुआ) - Un-sc-a-zed
Meaning - without suffering any injury, damage, or harm - Adjective
Synonyms - unharmed, unhurt
Antonyms - harmed, injured
Example - He escaped unscathed from the accident.

8) Epidemic (महामारी) - Epi-dem-ik
Meaning - of the nature of an epidemic - Adjective
a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time - Noun
Synonyms - outbreak, widespread
Antonyms - limited
Example - Doctors are struggling to contain the epidemic.

9) Peccadillo (मामूली गलती) - Pecca-dilloMeaning - a relatively minor fault or sin - Noun
Synonyms - minor offence, petty offence
Example (English) - The nineteen year old boy, sentenced for a peccadillo, had been put for five months in a solitary cell without light, ventilation or bed.
Example (Hindi) - उस उन्नीस वर्ष के लड़के, जिसे एक मामूली गलती के लिए सजा सुनाई गई थी, को अकेले पांच महीने तक जेल की एक कोठरी में बिना रोशनी, हवा या बिस्तर के रखा गया था।

Now considering the article above as a Reading Comprehension question, try to answer the following -
  • How does a computer become infected with Ransomware?
  • What is the possible impact of Ransomware?
Given below are some words to check your vocabulary you can make sentences with those words in the comment section which will be reviewed by us.
  • Consolation
  • Exploit
  • Massive
  • Implications
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