WannaCry Explored

ransomwareWannaCry is another form of ransomware, similar to NotPetya and Bad Rabbit. WannaCry severely crippled much of Fedex and Nissan Motor company’s systems, as well as the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS).

In this particular attack, victims were given 72 hours to pay up three hundred dollars in what else? Bitcoin! Worse, paying didn’t result in their systems being unlocked.

The United States has determined that North Korea is to blame for this variation of ransomware, based on their own evidence coupled with evidence from their partners.

WannaCry was exceptionally widespread resulting in billions of dollars in damages leading to the United States position to publicly attribute their attack as costly, cowardly and careless.

The issue here is what’s left to combat North Korea’s excursion into cyber-criminality? The United States has literally done just about everything possible to combat North Korea’s actions, short of full scale war. Do we have to starve their people to death, or would even that not help in dealing with their leadership (or lack of it)?

Not just governments from around the globe, but also companies like Facebook, Microsoft and other industry giants need to work to disrupt these cowardly attacks. They, in fact, have recently started by disabling North Korean accounts determined to be associated with cyber-attacks.

At issue is that ransomware attacks are far too easy if we don’t all pull together as a cyber-coalition to put a halt to these types of attacks. Global inter-communications and cooperation is absolutely necessary.

As North Korea deals with a whole host of problems because of sanctions imposed on them by responsible members of the global community, it continues to develop its cyber capabilities, as well as its nuclear arsenal.

By the United States officially calling out North Korea as the culprit behind the WannaCry ransomware attacks, this gave the U.S. increased ammunition to call on other nations to work hand-in-hand to put a kink in North Korea’s armor.

Countries like Australia, Japan, the U.K. and Canada agree with the United States assessment, but North Korea continues to disavow any connection to this attack.

How large is North Korea’s techno force?

They’ve been actively training soldiers in cyber-criminality since the 90’s, with an estimated 1600 or more state-sponsored hackers – with over double the support staff.

How successful have the North Korean efforts been?

Just recently, they stole United States/South Korean military plans AND they allegedly stole over fifty million dollars from a bank in Taiwan.

Going back a few years, North Korea made international news when they broke into Sony Corp’s systems just as they were due to release a movie entitled, “The Interview,” which I saw, and thought was incredibly hilarious. Why the interest from North Korea? This movie was a comedy that they felt disrespected their leader.

How serious was the WannaCry ransomware attack on NHS?

Approximately one-third of NHS’s systems were affected, resulting in over nineteen thousand medical appointments being cancelled AND computers at six hundred surgeries locked down.

The infection spread using a computer exploit called ETERNALBLUE that was developed by the NSA. That exploit was leaked by The Shadow Brokers, a notorious hacking group.

Could the attack have been prevented?

NHS had been warned to migrate away from older Windows XP software, but failed to act appropriately and thus, consequently suffered untold damages. Once again, it’s better to be proactive rather than reactive.

Fortunately, this particular attack was thwarted by a security researcher utilizing a domain-based kill switch, but not before it affected even more large firms like Renault and Telefonica.


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