A screenshot of the warning screen from a purported ransomware attack, as captured by a computer user in Taiwan, is seen on laptop in Beijing, Saturday, May 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
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The attack largely infected networks that used out-of-date software, such as Windows XP, which Microsoft no longer offers technical support for.Hackers bait users to click on infected email links, open infected attachments or take advantage of outdated and vulnerable systems. This weekend's virus was particularly virulent, because it could spread to all other computers on a network even if just one user clicked a bad link or attachment.Those include a known and highly dangerous security hole in Microsoft Windows, tardy users who didn't apply Microsoft's March software fix, and malware designed to spread quickly once inside university, business and government networks.The virus targeted computers using Windows XP, as well as Windows 7 and 8, all of which Microsoft stopped servicing years ago.Low-end criminals take advantage of less-savvy users with such known viruses, even though malware is constantly changing and antivirus is frequently days behind detecting it.Hackers will sometimes encourage you to keep your computer on and linked to the network, but don't be fooled.
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