Hotbed of Bootleg Software, China Gets Hit Most by WannaCry, by Wolf Richter

What goes around comes around. The Chinese use a lot of bootleg software, which is vulnerable to malware that the originals are not. Updates and patches only go to legitimate software. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

Just one more reason for China to develop its own mousetrap.

According to China’s official state TV broadcaster, cited by the New York Times, about 40,000 institutions were hit by the WannaCry ransomware attack on Windows-based computers since Friday – more institutions than in any other country.

This included research universities like Tsinghua University. Students around the country complained about being locked out of final thesis papers. Hainan Airlines and other major companies were infected. The electronic payment systems at PetroChina’s gas stations around the country went down for much of the weekend. Bank of China ATMs went down too.

China Telecom was among the companies that instructed employees over the weekend to patch the vulnerability of their computers, first using a patch it provided, and when that failed, a patch provided by Chinese security company Qihoo 360, which, as the Times put it, citing an employee of China Telecom, “supports pirated and out-of-date versions of Windows.”

So why did China’s companies and institutions get infected with this ransomware in such large numbers? One reason is the sheer size and complexity of the Chinese economy and the large numbers of computers. The other reason: Pirated versions of Microsoft Windows running on those computers.

These bootleg copies cannot be patched via Microsoft updates. Microsoft released a patch to fix this vulnerability on March 14. Updated computers were not affected by WannaCry. But that patch wasn’t available for bootleg copies of Windows.

Software trade organization BSA reported last year that 70% of the software running on computers in China was pirated. Though that was down from 79% in 2009, it still leaves much of China vulnerable to cyber-attacks since this bootleg software cannot easily be registered with the software developer, such as Microsoft.

To continue reading: Hotbed of Bootleg Software, China Gets Hit Most by WannaCry

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