A massive ransomware “epidemic” is hitting the world right now, using the infamous NSA exploits that were leaked online recently. The attack started earlier on Friday and the main targets were the computer systems of thousands of corporations and various private companies, together with public and governmental organization from all across the world.
74 nations are affected by the internet-apocalypse, including the United States. The ransomware has been identified as a variant of WannaCry, aka WannaCryptor, WanaDecrypt0r or WCRY and it works by blocking the access to a PC/laptop or to its files, with the attacker demanding money for unlocking it.
Once infected/locked out of his/her PC, the victim is then asked to pay a ransom of up to $300 or maybe more, depending on the value of the target.
This is nothing out of the ordinary, as these types of attacks are a regular occurrence, but what’s new about today’s global ransomware attack is the scale, which has never been seen before. More than 45,000 attacks were recorded by internet security companies in 74 countries in the last ten hours alone.
Along with the United States, Russia too was attacked, and so did Taiwan, China and Ukraine. The ransomware targets computers running on Windows and it drops a text file, a ransom note of sorts to the user, demanding a bitcoin payment worth $300 for unlocking the infected system within a certain time limit. If the victim fails to pay, all of his/her data is deleted.
The infected computer’s wallpaper is changed, showing a countdown timer which reminds the victim about the limited time available for paying the ransom.
This ransomware exploits a vulnerability that has been developed/discovered by the NSA. The respective “government made” hacking tool was stolen and distributed by the Shadow Brokers and others since 2016. Basically, everything that Edward Snowden predicted is now happening, i.e. the stolen tools developed by the NSA are now used by criminals globally.
The attack affected lots of public institutions, including hospitals.
— Sky News Tonight (@SkyNewsTonight) May 12, 2017