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Microsoft's free custom support could have stopped WannaCrypt attack

Microsoft has provided security updates for all customers using Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003

IANS  |  New York 

Microsoft
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Blaming for not providing free to its customers who were using old software that may have slowed down "WannaCrypt" attack, a media report has said the tech giant charged a fortune for the for older versions, including XP that was discontinued in 2014.

According to a report in Financial Times on Thursday, issuing a free would have protected the computers from the ransomware attack.

"But users of older software, such as XP, have to pay hefty fees for so-called 'custom' The cost went from $200 per device in 2014, when regular for XP ended, to $400 the following year. It jumped to $1,000 after that," the report said.

While offered deals for government agencies during the first year after the for XP was over, it charged the customers, including Britain's National Health Service (NHS), for the

NHS, however, abandoned the for unknown reasons in 2015 which exposed it to last week's ransomeware attack.

Microsoft, however, immediately issued a "free" for old software, including XP, on Friday midnight when the ransomware attack began spreading.

According to the report, "the high price highlights the quandary the world's biggest software company faces as it tries to force customers to move to newer and more secure software, while at the same time earning a profit from the army of engineers it employs on security issues".

The vulnerability in the software — exploited by "WannaCrypt" — crippled computers across 150 countries, with hackers demanding hundreds of dollars from the users for them to regain control over their data.

has now provided security updates for all customers using 8 and Server 2003, anticipating further attacks on these earlier platforms being used by millions.

According to the company, "customers who are running supported versions of the operating system (Vista, Server 2008, 7, Server 2008 R2, 8.1, Server 2012, 10, Server 2012 R2, Server 2016) will have received the security update MS17-010 in March.

"If customers have automatic updates enabled or have installed the update, they are protected. For other customers, we encourage them to install the update as soon as possible," said Phillip Misner, Principal Security Group Manager, Security Response Centre.

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