Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

WannaCry Ransomware attack: Indian banking sector to be the next victim


He said the main challenge was the fast-spreading capabilities of the malware, but added that, so far, not many people have paid the ransoms that the virus demands.

This one worked because of a "perfect storm" of conditions, including a known and highly unsafe security hole in Microsoft Windows, tardy users who didn't apply Microsoft's March software fix, and malware created to spread quickly once inside university, business and government networks.

The ransomware known as "WannaCry" or "WannaCrypt" or "WannaDecrypt" affects vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows computers and it is believed to be using technology developed by the National Security Agency that, according to The Intercept, was leaked by hackers in mid-April.

"WannaCry" has disrupted networks in over 150 countries, including Russian Federation and the United Kingdom and is being termed as one of the most widespread cyber attacks in the history.

A cyber-attack that hit 150 countries since Friday should be treated by governments around the world as a "wake-up call", Microsoft has said.

It is the largest ransomware attack observed in history.

Some hospitals were forced to cancel procedures and appointments, as ambulances were directed to neighbouring hospitals free from the ransomware bug.

- How did the attack spread worldwide?

Experts have these tips to guard against ransomware. Hackers will sometimes encourage you to keep your computer on and linked to the network, but don't be fooled.

"There are other criminals who've launched this attack, and they are ultimately responsible for this", he said.

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So far, the culprits are unknown, as is the motivation. The agency estimates some 200,000 victims - including 100,000 public and private sector organizations - have been affected since the start of the cyberattack.

Experts think it unlikely to have been one person, with criminally minded cyber crime syndicates nowadays going underground and using ever more sophisticated encryption to hide their activities.

It's easy to blame Microsoft, saying it should do more to protect the millions of computers powered by its software.

Now that this "WannaCry" malware is out there, the world's computer systems are vulnerable to a degree they haven't been before, unless people everywhere move quickly to install Microsoft's security patches.

Kaspersky said it was seeking to develop a decryption tool "as soon as possible".

The VNCERT said the ransomware is extremely unsafe as it is capable of stealing information and decrypting the entire system that has been infected.

- How much ransom was asked?

The attack held hospitals and other entities hostage by freezing their computers, encrypting their data and demanding money through online bitcoin payment - $300 at first, rising to $600 before it destroys files hours later.

Payment is demanded within three days or the price is doubled, and if none is received within seven days, the files will be deleted, according to the screen message.

Experts advise people not to pay, as it would only encourage the attackers, there is no guarantee that they will unblock files, and may result in them gaining access to victims' bank details.

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