When you try to open a file, a message appears, demanding a ransom.
Even as word was still spreading Friday that computers at dozens of hospitals in the United Kingdom were being maliciously locked down, and a notice demanding ransom posted on their screens, an anonymous researcher known as MalwareTech was in the process of shutting down further spread of the program.
They exploited a flawless storm of factors - the Windows hole, the ability to get ransom paid in digital currency, poor security practices - but it's unclear if the payoff, at least so far, was worth the trouble.
In total, the hackers behind WannaCry made $69,535 by Tuesday morning, as payments continued to flow in.
The exploitation of EternalBlue, suspected to have been developed using a hacking method leaked from US National Security Agency, allows the malware to spread through file-sharing protocols set up across the internal networks of organisations, many of which criss-cross the globe, according to Financial Times.
After the WannaCry attack, Microsoft went out of its way to ensure the safety of users. However, not everyone has automatic updates enabled and worse yet, some customers are still running Windows XP, meaning a lot of systems were still left vulnerable. If you are willing to pay, and some customers have shown they are willing to do so, you can continue to have Windows XP patched but it will not come cheap. And while Microsoft had already released a security update to patch the vulnerability one month earlier, the sequence of events fed speculation that the NSA hadn't told the us tech giant about the security risk until after it had been stolen.
"The massive malware attack that hit multiple countries has caused chaos and has shut down vital institutions such as hospitals", U.S. Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) said Friday in a statement.
A good thing is that the flaw does not exist in Windows 10. If you have machines running Windows, needless to say, you should patch them as fast as you can. This includes Windows 8 and Windows XP, which the majority of NHS England trusts are using. "Because not everyone installs those updates in a timely manner".
Chris Camacho, chief strategy officer at the cybersecurity firm Flashpoint, told ABC News that health care companies were particularly ripe for ransomware attacks like this one because patient records are so critical to care.
Like most malicious campaigns, this type of ransomware could arrive as an email attachment or as a download on your computer. It breached computers through phishing emails and then spread through networks using a Server Messaging Block vulnerability on outdated Windows computers.
Unless you've taken the wise step of throwing all electronics in a dumpster and moving to a desert island, you've probably heard about WannaCry by now.
Back up your data on offline hard drives.
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