‘WannaCry’ Malware Wreaks Havoc In Over 150 Countries

On May 12, more than 2 million systems across 150 countries, operating on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, were hijacked by a cyber-attack. The most affected were the government offices, health care institutions, companies and all the organizations, which depended heavily on the computers for their operations. From the investigation inputs, it is suspected that the cyber-attack could have a link with North Korea that created a catastrophe in the computer systems across the globe, thus fueling the rift between Russia and America.

WannaCry Malware, also being referred as WanaCrypt0r 2.0, WannaCry and WCry, is said to be the worst cyber attack so far. Citing this incident as an unprecedented havoc, Europe’s policing agency, Europol expressed that it will require a complex international investigation to track down the attackers.

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What Is Wannacry Virus And How Does It Affect?

WannaCry worm affects system using Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 infecting emails, links, and file. With a single click on any wrong link, the virus will further spread more rapidly.  The countries which are still using the old version of Windows OS, that is Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, were mostly hit.

The ransomware targeted the flaws in the Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 operating system to send phishing emails to the users. Phishing is the process of retrieving confidential information such as usernames, password, bank details, credit card details, for fraudulent practices, by disguising as a trustworthy entity or pretending to be from an official site. When emails or links are sent from such sites and clicked, then automatically the system becomes corrupt which leads to the data leakage and the breach of security.

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Once the worm locks the system it demands a ransom money to be paid in virtual Bitcoin currency, if they wished to recover their data. Some systems have been hijacked in a way where the pop ups on the screen cannot be closed unless the payment is done in Bitcoins. The ransom has been carried in Bitcoins so the attackers cannot be hunted.

However, some reports say, even payment in Bitcoins doesn’t guarantee the recovery of data. Some people did make the payments in the virtual currencies but couldn’t get back their information.

Who Are Affected?

The rampant malware attack affected Telefonica and many other big companies in Spain. Also, Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), Fed Ex, Deutsche Bahn, LATAM Airlines and many other organizations were very much troubled in a record time. Russian banks and railway system were largely affected. The makers of Renault had to pause their operations for a while at its Douai plant. The malicious software conquered the whole world thus halting operations for some time.

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How Was The Attack Brought Under Control?

The situation could be brought under control thanks to a tech wizard (also known as Malware Tech) who unknowingly found out an emergency switch to fight WannaCry’s effects. Had it not happened, the damage could have been more severe and much more disastrous. So this helped the authorities to recover their data and information and later update their systems.

Europol also notified that WannaCry has the capability to mutate over time in several ways and encrypt the system. It is not an ordinary malware, it comes with a worm which means if one machine is corrupted then the entire internal network and the systems working on it will be crashed.

Who Are The Intruders And How Can Such Attacks Be Prevented?

Nothing has been confirmed yet, Europol has demanded a detailed international investigation to zero in the attackers, who intruded into the personal territory of the institutions.

Microsoft had earlier released a security patch for the systems which had to be updated as per the latest software. Users should always update their systems as per the newest security updates. Besides, it is not advisable to click on any random links or download or visit sites from any unknown source.

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