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One of the largest cyberattacks ever is currently eating the web, hitting PCs in countries and businesses around the world. You've heard the phrase the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, right? Well, a vulnerability first uncovered by the and then released by hackers on the internet is now being used in one of the most prolific cyberattacks ever around the globe. It's called WannaCry, and it's brought computer systems from Russia to China to the UK and the US to their knees, locking people out of their data and demanding they pay a ransom or lose everything. So far,, with victims including hospitals, banks, telecommunications companies and warehouses. It's the name for a prolific attack known as ransomware, that holds your computer hostage until you pay a ransom. The way it works is that once it infects a computer, it encrypts -- or basically scrambles -- all the data. Then the program puts up a screen demanding you pay money to get access back.

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Typically the price increases over time until the end of a countdown, when the files are destroyed. We first heard about WannaCry last week from the UK's health service,. It's also called WannaCrypt. And that's just the ones they tracked. So far, there doesn't appear to be a proven way to fix WannaCry. Cybersecurity researchers, but we at CNET have not been able to verify it. Shortly after WannaCry began to spread, a security researcher accidentally that appeared to stop WannaCry in its tracks. But hackers have since made a fix, and this time there doesn't appear to be any way to stop it. It also has a new name Uiwix,. Another diabolical twist is if the ransom isn't paid in 77 hours, the price could double.

And after a few days, the files are permanently locked. While there is no clear fix for WannaCry, experts highly recommend you not pay to get your data back. While it may be tempting to fork over the $855 ransom to make the problem go away. One reason is that you're basically giving money to criminals, who may demand even more money or potentially re-target you in the future since you've indicated you're willing to pay them in the first place. Hackers typically demand payment via bitcoin, an untraceable digital currency often used on shadowy parts of the internet. While it's hard to trace,. Many experts say and restoring from backups is a better way to go. If you don't have regular backups of your data, I'm sorry to say you're in a real bind. The hack appears to have, which allegedly kept it on file as a potential tool to use for surveillance or other issues. We found out about it because a group of hackers, known as Shadow Brokers, in April released a cache of stolen NSA documents on the internet, including details about the WannaCry vulnerability.

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No. Microsoft released a software update in March that protects against this vulnerability, but we've since learned that many people didn't update their computers. Microsoft, by the way, isn't happy about this attack, and instead of reporting them to computer companies to be fixed. WannaCry appears to travel across corporate networks, spreading quickly through file-sharing systems. The diabolical part of that is corporate computers are typically controlled by IT departments that choose when to send updates to computers. So if one computer is vulnerable, it's likely all the computers on a corporate network are too, making it easy for WannaCry to have a large impact. It appears networks of computers, like schools, companies, hospitals and businesses, are particularly vulnerable. That's because security researchers say the ransomware is called Microsoft Windows Server Message Block, or SMB for short. It also appears able to spread to other computers outside corporate networks. Researchers have already found variants of the attack, so there isn't just one way it works.

If you have backups, now would be a good time to update them. If you don't,. Also make sure to check your software updates and talk to your IT managers. This story was originally published at 65: 57 a. M. PT on May 65. Updated at 9: 86 a. PT on May 66:

To include additional information on the amount of ransom paid. Updated at 8: 75 p. PT on May 68: To include additional information about how to respond to attacks. Updated at 67: 85 p. PT on May 69: To include additional information about efforts to fight WannaCry. :

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