Windows 10 is the only operating system completely safe from the WannaCry ransomware, according to Microsoft. Claiming more than 200,000 victims in around 150 countries, the WannaCry virus has brought chaos to public and private organisations – including the NHS – during the past two weeks. Blocking systems and files until a ransom was paid, the ransomeware deleted files within days if users refused to pay up.
The majority of affected devices were running on old operating systems, with Windows XP and Windows 7 devices particularly vulnerable. New data by internet security company Kaspersky shows that Windows 7 – which runs on around 45 per cent of all machines – was the hardest hit by the attack.
Microsoft had released a patch for Windows 7 in March but it appears that many users hadn’t updated to the latest version. The US technology giant also says that its latest Windows 10 software is the only OS completely safe from WannaCry. Kaspersky’s research backs this up with only a small number of infections reported on Windows 10 devices.
A statement from Microsoft president Brad Smith said: "As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, there is simply no way for customers to protect themselves against threats unless they update their systems." Smith also called on governments to ‘wake up’ to the threat of cyber security, saying the issue is not being taken seriously enough.
Last week, a leading security expert in the UK called for a ‘global cyber police force’ in the midst of the WannaCry ransomware attack. Mark Skilton, of Warwick Business School, believes a worldwide online watchdog needs to be established in order to prevent ‘potentially fatal’ attacks. "This attack has shown there needs to be a ‘cyber police force’ at a global level to help manage these escalating threats with the right level of specialist skills, and not just vendors sorting it out for themselves,” he said. "With Microsoft, as well as many other vendors and cyber response agencies, citing a 75 per cent increase in user expectation to be cyber-attacked in the next 12 months, this attack has just gone to the ‘next level’.