On Friday, May 12th, the world has faced the biggest cyber attack in history. Cyber security software development company Avast reported over 57,000 attacks in 74 countries all over the world.
Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at the Helsinki-based cybersecurity company F-Secure, called the attack “the biggest ransomware outbreak in history.”
In the UK, the biggest damage was caused to National Health Service. Over 16 health service organizations were hit by the ransomware attack, forcing the doctors to cancel surgeries and turn down patients, even those requiring emergency treatment. The medical staff lost access to all medical records and had to revert to pen and paper and use own cellphones.
The powerful cyber attack has affected a wide number of organisations all over the world. An Italian telecommunications company and russian cellphone service operator MegaFon are reported to be under attack. In Germany, the biggest railway company Deutsche Bahn was the cyber attack highest priority target. The passengers were able to see the ransomware message on every railway station.
How did it happen?
Cybersecurity experts report that the hackers are using the ransomware WannaCry that exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows and encrypts user data. The message displayed on all screens contains a demand to transfer Bitcoins to a certain wallet in oreder to get the files back. As of now, 4 wallets have been reported accepting ransomware payments. The required payment varies between $300 and $600 USD.
Bitcoin addresses are public, therefore allowing the world to see the transactions. As of now, 7 Bitcoins have been transferred to the wallets which equals over $12,000. The payment deadline has been set to May 15th, after that hackers threaten to double the amount required to recover the data. If the payment isn’t received by May 19th, the files can no longer be restored, hackers say.
Shadow Brokers are blamed for the attack
The patch fixing the vulnerability that allowed the ransomware to take over so many computers all over the world has been released by Microsoft in March. A large number of infected computers have been running Windows XP. The operation system that is no longer supported by Microsoft and therefore doesn’t receive the updates.
The group of hackers named Shadow Brokers is being blamed for the biggest cyber attack the world has ever seen. The cyber gang is rumored to have links to Russia. In April, the group was bragging that they had stolen a secret “cyber weapon” from the US National Security Agency. The mysterious weapon called “Blue Eagle” was supposedly developed by its military intelligence unit.
Here you can track the virus spreading all over the world.