May 14, 2017

WannaCry: The story so Far...

By Annie Stroud

On Friday 12th May the biggest Ransomware attack, infecting businesses on a global scale, swept rapidly across 150 countries. With over 200,000 reports of infected computer systems as well as car parking machines, billboards and even washing machines, the virus shows no signs of slowing down.

WannaCry is a malicious form of malware that has encrypted companies such as the NHS, Renault, Nissan, FedEx and Telefonica causing a global crisis. The virus rapidly infects systems, disables files and demands a ransom in the form of £230 worth of bitcoins which has resulted in over £23,200 (in bitcoin) being paid to WannaCry in an attempt to stop the attacks spreading any further. However, full system restore is not guaranteed once the ransom has been paid and in some cases systems are restored with renamed files or even semi corrupted data.

A kill switch activated by a UK-based tech analyst, going by the name of MalwareTech, slowed down Friday’s attack. Marcus Hutchins, the ‘accidental hero’ bought the domain name being used by WannaCry for £8.29 temporarily blocking the virus. Marcus who has since released a post on twitter stated, ‘I will confess that I was unaware registering the domain name would stop the malware until after I registered it’.

Although the creators of WannaCry still remain unknown, we do know that this is their second attempt in a cyber takeover, with reports suggesting another attack is imminent.

After returning to work after the weekend, many companies were warned that further encryption might have taken place. Like most Ransomware, the virus spreads like a worm through phishing emails and lack of cyber security training for employees within organisations. With Ransomware on the rise, it is now more vital than ever, that staff are equipped with the correct tools in order to stop these attacks happening on such a large scale.

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