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If Wannacry cyber attack didn’t make you wannacry, the next one will!

news.goldseek.com / By David Haggith / 19 May 2017

The Wannacry malware that hit like a global mega-bomb, showed everyone how vulnerable we are to a global cyber attack. Billed as “one of the largest global ransomware attacks the cyber community has ever seen,” the infection started in London and then emerged almost instantly in Seattle, New York, and Tokyo. Within ten minutes, the coordinated attack became epidemic throughout the world, covering the better part of every continent but Antarctica. By the end of one day, the malware had infected over 200,000 computers in 150 nations, encrypting all their data and locking the users out.

While the attackers demanded a ransom in order to free hostage computers, the small number of companies that paid the ransom required for unlocking the encryption did not get their data back, raising a question of whether the primary goal was really money or mayhem. (If primary goal was making a lot of quick money, it would make more sense to quickly release data so that more companies would be inclined to pay the ransom, seeing that payment solved the problem.)

This was a cyber attack equal in scale to something Dr. Evil would create or some Bond villain would use to collect ransom from the entire world … or to control the world. This time, it didn’t win, but there are some interesting reasons why as you did deeper.

Top levels of governments ordered emergency meetings to try to quickly understand and stem the spread of this very destructive piece of warware. A solution emerged quickly because an anonymous British researcher discovered the virus was built with a kill switch. With each infection the virus would check to see if a particular website was running and issuing a kill command. If no command, the virus would begin its mission of destruction. The researcher discovered the website, which was dormant, and activated it, slamming the brakes on global destruction. This bought time for people to apply Microsoft’s patch before the attackers could launch a modified version of the virus. Furthermore, the destructive code was only able to infect computers that had not upgraded with the latest Microsoft patch; so damage was hugely mitigated.

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