The NSA Just Enabled the Shutdown of the British Health System… It could have been a lot worse!

First off, if you use Windows PLEASE update your machines RIGHT NOW!

But secondly, remember a year ago when various presidential candidates were publicly mad at Apple for not creating a “backdoor” to “catch criminals”?

The theory was the NSA could keep the “keys” safe and we could use these backdoors to save lives. Welp, it turns out a couple of months ago (in March) the NSA was hacked, and among the information stolen was information on how to hack millions of Windows computers… which is how hackers managed to shut down the British health systems!

Some hospitals affected by the attack were diverting ambulances to other centers, and asked people to stay away from emergency rooms unless they needed urgent care – The Atlantic

We were spared in the US because… well we’re not sure why. Apparently, whomever wrote this code put a secret switch to temporarily turn it off, and a security researcher stumbled upon it, so *most* people in the US were safe simply because their machines were turned off when the virus was turned on.

This specific attack is called “ransomware”… which means they basically encrypt (lock) all your files, corrupt your backups and then promise to unlock them if you pay them $300 through secret backdoor means. If you don’t pay, they promise to destroy all your data.

Yeah kinda crazy…

So back up your machine, and next time you hear a politician complaining that Apple (or Microsoft, or Google, or whomever) should “trust them” with master keys to your computer… take a minute to explain to them why that’s not such a good idea.