Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

What is WannaCry? What does WannaCry ransomware do?


Bkav Corporation, the largest internet security firm in Vietnam, yesterday gratis issued a device named Wanna Crypt0r to check WannaCry ransomware - which has been wreaking havoc across the world.

Ransomware is a type of wicked and malicious software that takes over the system of a computer.

"Our banks may be affected in a couple of hours".

Meanwhile, none of the major banks, or the Reserve Bank of India, reported any anomaly, suggesting that the latest cyber-attack had minimal impact on the country's financial system.

NHS Digital, the body that oversees cybersecurity in Britain's health system, said that as of now, it has "no evidence that patient data has been compromised".

The WannaCry attack "bore some striking similarities to the code used in those three attacks".

"Companies like Microsoft should discard the idea that they can abandon people using older software", Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the school of information and library science at the University of North Carolina, wrote in a New York Times opinion piece over the weekend.

But in this case, according to Kaspersky Lab, the shared code was removed from the versions of WannaCrypt that are now circulating, which reduces the likelihood of such a "false flag" attempt at misdirection.

In a blog post on Sunday, Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer at Microsoft, noted that as cyberattacks have grown in sophistication, the government practice of hoarding malicious tools has done more harm than good. The malware locked down computers and threatened businesses and individuals of wiping out files from systems in a week's time if the victim did not pay a ransom between 300 to 600 dollars. Activating the domain worked as a kill switch for the malware.

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Researchers are still puzzling out how WannaCry got started.

The NSA has not commented on Shadow Brokers since the group emerged a year ago, or the contents of past leaks. These don't prevent a ransomware attack but they will filter out some of the emails that carry ransomware.

"While it would be satisfying to hold accountable those responsible for this hack - something that we are working on quite seriously - the worm is in the wild, so to speak, at this point, and patching is the most important message as a result", said Bossert. If we were to replicate our world according to the blockchain principles, our private data would be spread over the world in a decentralized manner, and at the same time encrypted.

"WannaCry is a wake up call for firms that have not purchased cyber insurance, even in industries that traditionally did not think that they needed it", Bailey said.

When the NSA adds to its arsenal an undisclosed software vulnerability, known as a "zero day", rather than reporting it to the maker of the software, any common cybercriminal who happens to independently discover it will be free to exploit the security hole for their own ends, sometimes for years and years.

This is an emerging pattern in 2017. "An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the USA military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen". Though more questions are still to be answered, and experts are desperately seeking the first attacked computer to help find the perpetrator and more.

Smith says cyberweapons require a new approach, and governments must "consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits". NHS, for example, was warned previous year that their systems were outdated and no longer supported by Microsoft for updates and security patches.

Dore said companies that faced disruptions because they did not run the Microsoft update or because they were using older versions of Windows could face lawsuits if they publicly touted their cyber security.

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