In view of the new worldwide cyberextortion attack, the Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team (SingCert) has warned Microsoft Windows users to update their desktop computers, the only option to avoid the latest ransomware called Petya.

SingCert, the government arm under Singapore's Cyber Security Agency (CSA), said owners of desktop computers running on some Windows versions must update their devices and make sure that anti-virus software is equipped to scan malware. It noted to back up necessary files and place them offline if necessary so once they get infected by the malware, files will still be recoverable.

Windows versions

Microsoft operating system versions at risk include Windows 10, Windows RT 8.1, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Sever 2008, and Windows 2008 R2.

GoldenEye is the variant of Petya attacking computers in Russia, Ukraine, France, the US, India, and more. It works almost similar to the WannaCry ransomware that brought down government agencies, hospitals, and business establishments last May by locking their data up.

GoldenEYe encrypts the whole hard-drive once a user opens a suspicious booby-trapped document. It automatically downloads and run the malware's installer and, later on, spread it to other computers connected.

'More dangerous and intrusive'

SingCert has warned users that GoldenEye is "more dangerous and intrusive" than WannaCry. As of press time, the ransomware has affected already a number of establishments in Ukraine and the rest of Europe, including pharmaceutical firm Merck, radiation monitoring system Chernobyl, law firm DLA Piper, shipping firm Maersk, advertising agency WPP, Ukraine's state power distributor Ukrenergo, and more banks and airports. More companies are expected to come forward affected.

Two hours after GoldenEye broke out, 13 payments reportedly took place in the total amount of US$3,500. This figure is expected to balloon once latest data is available.