Thursday, 15 November, 2018

What we currently know about the global cyberattack

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Laurie Berry | 18 May, 2017, 20:20

Neil Walsh, the UN's head of global cyber-crime, said while ransomware attacks have been occurring for some time, he has never seen an attack on such a large scale before. In the United Kingdom, the malware invaded at least 60 NHS trusts, preventing doctors from accessing patient records and forcing them to cancel non-urgent procedures. Researchers aren't positive why the domains are there, but they have been able to figure out a way to stop the spread of the ransomware by registering them.

The WannaCry ransomware made on average $23,333 a day. After their software encrypts your computer, rendering your files inaccessible, some hackers have taken to providing step-by-step instructions to clear things up.

The programme was designed in such a manner that when it lands on a system it locks up all files and encrypts them in a way that one can not access them anymore, until a ransom amount of $300 Bitcoin is paid-which defines the word ransomware. The first most people knew of the infection was a pop-up screen informing them that the contents of their computer would be deleted after seven days unless they paid a bitcoin ransom equivalent to $300.

So far, there are no reports of WannaCry infecting computers yet in the Philippines, as of this writing, but local Information Technology Officers advise keeping one's security software up to date to protect against such attacks.

Enter the ransomware hackers' equivalent of customer support. The company calculated the total based on payments tracked to bitcoin addresses specified in the ransom demands, adding that it expects the total to rise.

Yet Elliptic, which has delivered "actionable evidence" to law enforcement agencies in cases involving arms trafficking, money laundering and drug offences, says that if the hackers are going to be caught it will probably be when they attempt to claim their ransoms. "It is unusual to see this piecemeal approach, computer by computer". The worms quickly scanned computers with vulnerability, in this case the older versions of Microsoft Windows, and used those computers as hackers' command and control centers.

Ransomware normally generates a unique Bitcoin address for each machine infected so it can track who has paid, said Check Point. "WannaCry, on the other hand, only asks you to make a payment, and then ... wait".

The Labour manifesto: what it means for the West Country
We pushed Labour on this and they told us the commitment they are making is to have debt falling "as a percentage of (trend) GDP". Labour, however, promises to "end cuts to local authority budgets to support the provision of libraries, museums and galleries".

In the current attack, hackers demand payment from victims in bitcoins to regain access to their encrypted computers. Suffice to say, bitcoin is soon likely to gain legal status in India, with the government planning regulations for the industry.

WannaCry also affected several notable targets over the past week, including Spanish phone provider Telefónica, parts of Britain's National Health Service (NHS), U.S. delivery service FedEx, German railways Deutsche Bahn, LATAM Airlines and more.

The NSA stockpiles such vulnerabilities for this goal. But in April a set of these hacking tools, including Eternal Blue, was stolen from the NSA by cyber criminals and then leaked onto the internet. It was this that appears to have let the criminals behind WannaCry build software that could exploit Windows so successfully.

Another reason is that many organisations still run Windows XP, once again usually due to compatability issues.

Microsoft is not happy.

"We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the Central Intelligence Agency show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world". "The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call".

Perhaps if the attack had been on The Man - on some sort of oppressive corporation or secretive government body - WannaCry would have attracted the counterculture cheers that WikiLeaks has garnered for revealing tax cheats and political hypocrites.

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