Tens of thousands of computers globally have been infected byWanaCrypt0r 2.0 (also known as WannaCry) ransomware, according to cybersecurity experts.
FedEx Corporation (NYSE: FDX), Spanish telecom company, Telefonica SA (ADR) (NYSE: TEF), Russian telecom company Megafon and Interior Ministry as well as Britain’s National Health Services (NHS) are among the organizations affected by the ransomware attack.
FedEx issued a statement confirming that a malware is causing “interference” on some of its Windows-based systems and it is “implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible.”
In a blog post, Jakub Kroustek, a lead in the Intelligence Threat team at Avast, a cybersecurity firm, said they detected more than 75,000 attacks in 99 countries as of 12:15 in the afternoon, Pacific Time on Friday. Based on their data, majority of the WannaCry ransomware attacks targeted organizations in Russia, Ukraine, and Taiwan.
Rich Barger, the director of threat research at Splunk, said, “This is one of the largest global ransomware attacks the cyber community has ever seen.”
Hackers exploited NSA’s Eternal Blue hacking tool
Cybersecurity researchers believe that the hackers behind the WannaCry ransomware attack exploited a piece of hacking tool known as “Eternal Blue,” which was developed by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). A group known as Shadow Brokers released Eternal Blue along with a collection of hacking tools from the spy agency last month.
The cybercriminals spread the WannaCry ransomware by taking advantage of a Windows vulnerability, which was fixed by Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) in March. The ransomware encrypts all the files on an infected computer and demands payment in bitcoin from the administrator to be able to regain access to their files.
Kurt Baumgartner, the principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, noted, “Affected machines have six hours to pay up and every few hours the ransom goes up. Most folks that have paid up appear to have paid the initial $300 in the first few hours.”
Flashpoint chief strategy officer commented that the news about the WannaCry ransomware attack could embolden cyber extortionists when selecting their targets. He said, “Now that the cyber criminals know they can hit the big guys, they will start to target big corporations. And some of them may not be well prepared for such attacks.”
Microsoft released updates to protect Windows from WannaCry ransomware
On Friday, Microsoft released updates on its Windows operating system to protect people’s computers from being infected by the WannaCry ransomware.
In a statement, a spokesman for the software giant said, “Today our engineers added detection and protection against new malicious software known as Ransom:Win32.WannaCrypt.” The company is also working with its customers to provide additional assistance.
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