Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
Security experts are calling “WannaCry” (also known as “WannaCrypt”) one of the biggest cyberattacks ever after the ransomware program took advantage of a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows to spread to 150 countries and infect at least 200,000 computers around the world by locking down all files and allowing hackers to demand a $300 ransom in bitcoins for their release, according to a report from CNN.
CNN reports the software used to create the WannaCry attack was among a collection of alleged spy tools from the National Security Agency (NSA) that were leaked online in April 2017 by a hacking group called the Shadow Brokers. On May 12, 2017, Microsoft posted a blog entitled “Customer Guidance for WannaCrypt attacks” to spell out the steps every individual and business should take to stay protected.
CNN reports that people who have not updated their Windows PC recently are vulnerable to WannaCry. While Microsoft requires Windows 10 customers to automatically update computers, the multinational technology company released a security patch for the vulnerabilities in March 2017 for computers running older operating systems including Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003.
As for who is behind the WannaCry cyberattack – which appears to have made just over $50,000 in ransom – CNN reports that the hackers “remain anonymous for now.” However, a 22-year old security researcher in the U.K. known only as MalwareTech posted a blog about how he accidentally slowed the WannaCry attack by discovering a “kill-switch” to initially stop the spread of the ransomware.
CNN also reports that among the victims of the worldwide WannaCry cyberattack were FedEx, Nissan, the United Kingdom (U.K.) National Health Service, Deutsche Bahn, the Russian Central Bank, Russian Railways, Russia’s Interior Ministry, Megafon, and Telefónica. The complete CNN report is available at http://money.cnn.com/2017/05/14/technology/global-cyberattack-explanation/index.html.
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