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Global Ransomware Attack: Outbreak Disrupts IT Systems Worldwide

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ISACA’s Cybersecurity Nexus Training Platform and Assessment Tool offer on-demand, hands-on training and skills assessment in live lab environment. (image: Yu Samoilov)
WanaCry infected thousands of computers all over the globe (image: Yu Samoilov)

A new wave of ransomware known as “WannaCry” has spread across the globe and infected tens of thousands of computers. This ransomware propagates by exploiting a Microsoft Windows vulnerability in unpatched computers. According to Europol, more than 200,000 victims had been hit in more than 150 countries – the largest ransomware attack observed in history.

The malware encrypts data on a computer within seconds and then displays a message asking the user to pay a ransom of about R4,000, which is lower than other ransomware we have seen – but the true cost will be all the time, lost files, and other collateral damage caused by this attack.

The files touched by the attack are encrypted and the attacker is the only source for the key to reverse that – this can have dire consequences, especially in the healthcare sector. Encrypted patient records, doctor’s files and other items may not be able to be usable or accessible unless there is a good backup to restore from. So far the culprits are unknown – but it is unlikely that it was one person.


Fortunately, to protect yourself against this threat, there is much that you can do, and you should probably get started sooner rather than later:

Install anti-malware software – this will give you a fighting chance at stopping this before you are affected
Update your windows machine – don’t ignore the security update they exist for a reason. For businesses patches can be very difficult to get deployed across the entire network – this one you will want to install. It has been available since mid-April and actually stops the exploit from gaining a foothold in your environment.

ESET detects and blocks the WannaCryptor.D threat and its variants. With ESET’s network protection module, we are blocking the leaked version of the exploit on the network level. We have issued an alert on our Knowledge Base site providing step-by-step instructions for our customers to ensure they are protected.

At ESET, customer safety comes first. We recommend users proactively update their operating systems, use caution when opening email attachments and enable LiveGrid on your ESET products.

Staff Writer

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