WannaCry 2.0: Get Ready For a New Round of Ransomware Attacks

Joan Terry
May 19, 2017

"[People] should be thinking about this as an attack that for right now we (have) got under control", said Bossert, in an interview with ABC News on Monday.

Bossert added that USA officials were not disregarding the possibility that the global cyberattack was a "state action".

Last Friday's outbreak of the WannaCry ransomware infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide, including thousands at United Kingdom hospitals. If that sounds outlandish, ponder the fact that a staggering 200,000 computers have been infected with malware that demands $300 worth of Bitcoin to clear; otherwise, data is gone. The computer screen locks up, and displays two count-down clocks - one displaying the time until the ransom doubles and the other the time until all files are deleted.

Experts say the ransomware attacks, in which computer systems are locked until users pay to release them, have mostly attacked businesses. Once a ransom is paid, the criminal will offer to decrypt the files and return the computer to its normal state. Because numerous computers impacted run older Windows systems like XP, Microsoft issued a rare patch for XP, which it had stopped updating more than three years ago. Microsoft said last month that the vulnerabilities that were exploited had been patched.

In a blog post published Sunday, Microsoft president Brad Smith criticized world leaders for stockpiling vulnerabilities to computer systems. IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the systems run by the National Informatics Centre were secured and running smoothly.

WannaCry Ransomware: Apple Users Too Vulnerable To Such Attacks
Ransomware is a form of infected software created to take over a computer system and then block access for the authorized user. The malicious software was transmitted via email and stolen from the National Security Agency, reports the New York Times .

Smith also emphasized that Microsoft is increasingly among the first responders to cyberattacks in the internet. Though the governments and companies have been able to gain the upper hand, the ransomware could be back in a big way.

Also, instead of alerting software companies that it had found an error, the US government identified the WannaCry cyberattack and then let important documents about the attack slip through their fingers.

The company on Friday said it had added additional protection against the specific malware, and was working with affected customers.

Officials urged organisations and companies to immediately update their security software. "This is an emerging pattern in 2017", Smith wrote. Smith compared the leak of NSA exploits to the theft of missiles from the American military, pointing to the WikiLeaks dump of Central Intelligence Agency hacking tools.

He called, as he did in February, for a "Digital Geneva Convention" to govern weapons in cyberspace the same way governments monitor weapons in the physical world.

Other reports by BadHub

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