WannaCry is a kind of malware known in IT services circles as ransomware. Ransomware functions by encrypting the data found on your device and then holding it up for ransom. Ransom commonly comes in the form of bitcoin or iTunes Cards, which you have to pay for the hackers to decrypt the data for you.
WannaCry enters your device, captures all your data in a vault and then holds it up for money, which you need to pay to regain access to your data.
The people behind it usually ask for a ransom worth $300 in bitcoins and the amount increases if you don’t pay in the following days. After a week, your data locked out by the malware will be impossible to retrieve.
Where Did It Come From?
A cybercrime gang named The Shadow Brokers gained access to a section of the NSA in 2016 and discovered scores of catalogued access to vulnerabilities and exploits. The Shadow Brokers first attempted to sell the stolen stuff, but the low demand for the “obsolete” exploits discouraged them.
How Did It Boom?
The precise process of how WannaCry became widespread or where it came from is still unknown. A theory is that the malware spread through infected attachments via email.
The site used to spread the malware is unregistered and only the hackers know the precise address. All the hacker simply needed to do was to register the domain in order to put the attacks on hold. Eventually, a 22-year old IT guy accidentally destroyed the first wave of WannaCry by locating and registering said domain.
The most prone to attacks are WindowsXP users. This is because this OS no longer gets security updates from Microsoft. After the attacks, Microsoft heeded and sent out patches for Windows XP and two other old OS systems.
Is It Really That Bad?
WannaCry is one of the hardest ransomware to fight. As written earlier, new encryption standards make it hard to recover encrypted data if you don’t have an exceptional amount computing power in your hands. And, even with such, the chances of recovery is quite small.
Once infected, the only hope is that you were able to back up your data. Take note, even those that are stored in the cloud – OneDrive or iCloud – aren’t on safe grounds either.
What Are the Solutions?
If your computer gets infected, you can do almost close to nothing. Either pay up or suffer the loss of files. If you’re not yet infected, you must update your system as soon as possible. I’m serious. Update your system. NOW. Begin the update process immediately. However, updated Windows users shouldn’t worry about this.
The Dragon Slayer
Now known as the accidental hero, a 22-year old Professional IT Services guy, who calls himself the “malwaretech,” put a stop to the spread of WCry.
Malwaretech chanced upon the garbled URL that served as the “off switch” for WCry. Finding out that it was unregistered, he registered it for around $11.
Then, it was game over for WannaCry.