Business Insider reported that on Friday, May 12, 2017, an overwhelming and vicious form of software called “ransomware” hit computers globally. Ransomware encrypts the victim’s data before demanding a bounty. The cyber attackers made more than $49,000. The price to unlock the cryptic messages was $300.
A division of the U.S. Intelligence Agency, called the National Security Agency, created a software program. This was leaked as ransomware and spread to 150 countries.
The computer virus attacked the large Spanish communication enterprise, Telefónica. It also canceled operations and closed down hospitals for Britain’s National Health Service.
The cyber attacker’s bounty was often paid in bitcoin. Bitcoin is a digital form of currency that keeps users anonymous.
However, the transaction using the anonymous digital currency is traceable. Every transaction was written on the blockchain, which can trace any payment throughout the network.
Business Insider cited expert analysis that the “WannaCry” ransomware, as it is called, indicated the ransom money to be sent to three wallets. As of last week, $49, 603 in bitcoin payments has been discovered. New payments are coming in frequently. Also, no efforts have been made to move the ransom money or funds from the account.
Fox News Tech reported that the ransomware already spread to other computers. The number of new computers infected is in the thousands. The newer attacks hit on Monday when victims of the cyber attack returned to work after the worldwide computer virus started.
The cyber attack was reported by Fox News, as the largest online extortion attack recorded. The virus locked computers that run Germany’s national railway, as well as countless factories, corporations, and federal agencies on a global scale.
Fox News cited a BBC analysis that discovered the hackers behind the attacks were paid $38,000, although, this could drastically rise, as workers and users log into their computer systems. Another factor considered is victims already infected could still abide by the attackers’ requests. Business Insider cites the cyber attack has already made more than $49,000.
Europol’s European Cybercrime Center, Steven Wilson, stated to Sky News that it is important for IT departments to check their systems on Monday morning. IT departments will be able to determine if systems are compromised, by turning them on Monday morning.
Wilson said the new part of the attack is the worm that spreads through networks. This is the only sophisticated part of the attack. Wilson concluded that it is beyond anything he, or anyone else, has seen before.
President Donald J. Trump told Tom Bossert, from Homeland Security, to hold an emergency meeting Friday night. The order was to evaluate the threat, posed by the virus, which his senior administration told Reuters.
On Saturday, in the White House Situation Room, senior security staff held an additional meeting. At the meeting, the National Security Agency and the FBI tried to classify the culprits of the massive cyber-attack.
Business Insider reported that Marcus Hutchins, a 22-year-old, slowed down the rapid speed of the malware. Hutchins, who lives in a small bedroom in his parent’s seaside resort home on the North Devon Coast, is a British cybersecurity researcher. He was able to stop the virus that created more than $49,000 worth of damage.
By John A. Federico
Edited by Jeanette Smith
Business Insider: The global ransomware attack has made $49,000 — but the attackers will have a hard time claiming it
Fox News: More victims expected in unprecedented cyberattack as users log on Monday
Business Insider: The 22-year-old who saved the world from a malware virus has been named
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