Security wonks are calling it the biggest cyberattack ever. WannaCry is ransomware – malicious software that encrypts people’s data, then demands payment in exchange for decryption.
The Conficker worm infected millions of computers including government, business and home computers in over 190 countries.
Meanwhile, “WannaCrypt” locked up machines, encrypted files and demanded approximately $600 in Bitcoin for a recovery key. That’s why it’s called ransomware. A group called the Shadow Brokers were able to steal the tools last summer and started publishing them online. Since the attack, Microsoft has released a highly unusual Windows XP update.
Windows 7 and Windows 10 are more popular than XP, with around 49% and 26% market share respectively. If these companies are found guilty of being negligent on their security updates, they could be in a lot of trouble. Playing with fire finally caught up with the victims.
He stressed that consumers also have a pivotal role and must not be complacent.
The WannaCry ransomware was first seen in the UK’s National Health Service, but it has since spread to networks globally, hitting Europe, Russia and China especially hard.
In the United Kingdom, hospitals were crippled by the cyberattack, which forced operations to be canceled and ambulances to be diverted.
Unfortunately, not everyone can update their versions of Windows.
The malware targets the outdated or legacy computer systems that run on old versions of Microsoft operating systems (OS). Meanwhile, the MalwareTech tracker detected over 100,000 infected systems over the past 2 days.
Microsoft released a patch for the flaw in March after hackers stole the exploit from the NSA. In other cases, Windows is running as an embedded application, and simply can’t be updated.
An increase in activity of the malware was noticed on Friday, security software company Avast reported, adding that it “quickly escalated into a massive spreading”. The core financial systems remained secure as they had stronger defences.
A 22-year old British security researcher who goes by the Twitter name MalwareTech is credited with slowing the spread of the ransomware by discovering a “kill switch” in the software that could disable the malware.
Vietnam Computer Emergency Response Team (VNCERT) under the Ministry of Information and Communications has urged organizations and companies nationwide to prevent possible attacks from WannaCry ransomware.
According to Rob Wainright, director of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, more than 200,000 computers are affected by WannaCry, most of which are outside the U.S. Both the scale of the attack and the virulence with which it spread from computer to computer surprised many cybersecurity experts. The attack since has been believed to be halted, by an anonymous specialist known only as MalwareTech.