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The global malware escalation exposes entire governments

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The latest global malware attack reflects an evolution of cyber warfare in which the communications of entire governments and countries can be crippled without recourse, says a leading computer security expert. While security firms and intelligence agencies continue to scramble to address Tuesday's attack, they have concluded that there is little or nothing to do about the data encrypted by the attackers.

Simon Crosby, chief technology officer at Bromium, a software security firm that works with companies including Microsoft and HP, says no virus protection program requiring human action will work against the malware. "It's now possible to cripple the response of a nation-state," he said.

The good news: New versions of Microsoft Windows 10 coming out later this year contain technology that protects against such encryption attacks by isolating the work someone is doing on a computer, says Crosby.

The bad news: Older versions of Windows are vulnerable and data encrypted by the attack is not recoverable — unless the attackers themselves free it up.