Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

French researchers find last-ditch cure to unlock WannaCry files

As the WannaCry deadline looms and hundreds of thousands of people risk losing important files encrypted by malware, a last-minute fix has arrived.

His idea involves extracting the keys to WannaCry encryption codes using prime numbers rather than attempting to break the endless string of digits behind the malicious software's full encryption key. The ransomware struck last Friday, ensnaring more than 300,000 computers around the world and netting more than $93,000 since then.

With ransomware, victims tend to be limited in their options: Either pay up or accept that you've lost your files.

However, he warns the method may not work for all the victimsn and one of the primary reasons is that if the machine was rebooted after the attack.

One week after it first hit, researchers are getting a better handle on how the WannaCry ransomware spread so quickly - and judging from the early figures, the story seems to be nearly entirely about Windows 7.

The WannaKey software will allow users hit by the WannaCry ransomware and running Windows XP on their PC to get rid of the malicious encryptor and access their files again.

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So if you've rebooted since your computer was hit by WannaCry, you might be out of luck. For the few who haven't, here's how the fix works.

His blog post links to a Delpy's "wanakiwi" decryption tool which is based on Guinet's original concept.

The fact that Guinet has open sourced the tool might help other researchers to come up with a solution for other Windows versions.

Infected PC owners "just download wanakiwi, and if the key can be constructed again, it extracts it, reconstructs it (a good one), and starts decryption of all files on the disk", he said in an interview.

Guinet, a security researcher at Paris-based Quarks Lab, published the theoretical technique for decrypting WannaCry files late Wednesday and Thursday, which Delpy, also in Paris, figured out how to turn into a practical tool to salvage files.

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