UIWIX And WannaCry Ransomware: Big Business For Microsoft

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Many big business are still reeling from the effects from the WannaCry ransomware that hit last week, and already another type of ransomware dubbed UIWIX has been identified. Cyber-security researchers say it’s similar to WannaCry, but it isn’t the same thing, which means there could be plenty other types of malicious programs just lurking in the shadows waiting to be uncovered.

And all these cyber-crises are making investors and analysts start to like names such as BlackBerry and Microsoft even more.

How UIWIX is similar to WannaCry

Cyber-security experts at Trend Micro identified UIWIX in a blog post earlier this week. They note that the way WannaCry was stopped was by registering its kill switch domain, but it was only a matter of days before another malicious program that’s similar to it popped up. They emphasized that UIWIX is not the same thing as WannaCry, nor is it a new evolved form of it, as some have described it.

Trend Micro describes UIWIX as a “new family that uses the same Server Message Block (SMB) vulnerabilities” exploited by WannaCry. However, the firm adds that UIWIX is different because it looks to be file-less and is “executed in memory after exploiting Eternal Blue.” This makes it more difficult to detect because no files are written to the infected systems, leaving a much smaller footprint.

Because it’s stealthier, it could be some time before we really hear about any serious impacts from UIWIX.

Buy Microsoft stock on the pullback

Given the way these malicious programs have been able to take advantage of older versions of Windows, one would think that Microsoft stock would be a big no-go right now. In fact, Microsoft shares have been on a bit of a roller coaster over the last week or so, with the latest deep dive starting early Wednesday. However, in a note to investors earlier this week, Credit Suisse analyst Michael Nemeroff argued in favor of buying Microsoft stock on any pullbacks associated with the WannaCry cyber-disaster.

Microsoft obviously knows how big of a business cyber-security is these days, and it has since been accused of intentionally withholding a free patch that could have lessened the blow caused by WannaCry. If the company did indeed sit back and let people’s PCs get bricked by the malicious program so it could swoop in and earn some more bucks fixing them, it wouldn’t be the first time a tech firm did something like this.

Turning UIWIX, WannaCry into opportunities

Nemeroff’s argument for buying Microsoft in spite of what happened is because he thinks this will just be a passing issue. He also noted that it demonstrates the company’s “continued ubiquity” and also that there are many, many businesses and industries that have yet to upgrade to Windows 10. In fact, his recent survey indicated that about 85% of survey respondents had not upgraded to Windows 10, and he feels that the cyber-attacks may cause some to accelerate their upgrade plans.

When all those outdated PCs are finally upgraded, he expects a “large number of new Office 365 Commercial subscriptions,” noting that he has found a high correlation between upgrading to Windows 10 and buying a new Office 365 Commercial subscription. He adds that any uptick in Office 365 subscriptions would be further upside above what he has already factored into his estimates.

Nemeroff has an Outperform rating and $80 target price on Microsoft stock. Microsoft shares closed down 0.03% at $67.69 on Friday.

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