An unprecedented malware attack began sweeping the globe late last week. Numbers are sketchy at present but security researchers estimate that more than 200,000 computers in over 150 countries have been infected.
The new ransomware known as WannaCryptor, WannaCrypt or WannaCry autonomously wormed its way through computers across the world this week. WannaCrypt is different from other ransomware as there is no human interaction needed for the virus to be activated on a computer. Traditionally an attack would be triggered by a user clicking on a suspicious link, but WannaCrypt exploits a vulnerability allegedly created by the US National Security Agency to keep an eye on people. Windows computers that do not have the latest updates installed on them are vulnerable to attack. Once the virus is sent to a vulnerable computer it spreads and searches for other computers on the same network
The virus affects users with unpatched or outdated operating systems. Microsoft took the extraordinary step of pushing out updates to several operating systems that are no longer officially supported by the organisation. If your computers are running on older versions of the Microsoft operating system you can discover more about these security updates on the Microsoft website.
What does WannaCrypt Ransomware do?
WannaCrypt is a Trojan virus called “ransomware”. WannaCrypt works by encrypting some, or all, of the files on a user’s computer. The virus then demands that a ransom be paid to the cybercriminal in the form of Bitcoin in order to have the files decrypted. If the user doesn’t pay within the specified timeframe the amount doubles and eventually the virus erases the encrypted data.
A British security researcher who goes by the name MalwareTech registered a domain that he found when examining the malware's code. By doing this he inadvertently slowed the spread of the virus. You can read more about this on the MalwareTech website.
This is not the first attack of this nature and it is unlikely to be the last. The proliferation of connected devices promises to bring with it a new breed of criminal. It really is a whole new world.
The team at FlowCentric Technologies urge to you to make sure that your operating system and antivirus are up-to-date, and that your data is securely backed up.
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