The year 2017 is known for many things, including the appearance of one of the most sophisticated and damaging computer hacks to ever target the mainstream public: WannaCry. Referred to by many as a virus, WannaCry is much more advanced. Technically known as a ransomware cryptoworm, WannaCry gave many consumers their first introduction to the concepts of ransomware and the crypto-market – much to their dismay.
WannaCry was initially reported between May 12 and May 15, 2017. The general public was spared the brunt of the damage as Microsoft released a series of emergency patches for their Windows operating systems, but not before serious damage had been done. In all, more than 200,000 individual systems throughout 150 different countries were affected by WannaCry – but we only recently learned of its origin.
According to recent news, issued at the end of 2017 and following an extensive investigation, officials place the blame on North Korea. But they're not accusing some teenage hacker or even a group of professional cyber-criminals – they're placing blame on the government itself.
Per the official report, issued United States Homeland Security and their adviser, Tom Bossert, "The attack was widespread and cost billions, and North Korea is directly responsible." He continued by saying: "North Korea has acted especially badly, largely unchecked, for more than a decade, and its malicious behavior is growing more egregious."
Although the United States has played the most active role in investigating WannaCry, the attack affected systems around the world. One of the hardest hit networks was in the U.K.'s healthcare sector, the National Health Service, which left many facilities unable to access systems that are critical to life-saving and supportive devices. The issue was compounded by the fact that many organizations were using outdated versions of Windows XP.
Nick Hulme, chief executive of multiple NHS-sponsored hospitals in England, reported that 500 of their 3,000 systems had been affected by WannaCry. He was quoted as saying: "The biggest problem is every time we think we have something fixed the hackers and criminals develop something new. Trying to stay one step ahead is a never-ending challenge."
A Likely Culprit and a Possible Mistake
It's no surprise that North Korea is behind the attack. Experts with Symantec and investigators with the British government were already eying the rogue nation as a likely culprit. But some experts believe the entire event might have been activated by mistake.
According to them, WannaCry was accidentally unleashed from the hard drives of government-backed hackers while they were still writing the code. If true, it's difficult to imagine the damage it could have caused if the original programmers were given enough time to finish the coding in its entirety.
Moving Forward and Recovering from WannaCry
Some WannaCry victims had no other choice but to pay the demanded ransom to restore their systems. Others simply scrapped their current devices for brand new hardware. In either case, WannaCry cause significant damage – in terms of both time and expense – around the globe. While it seems the threat has, for the most part, subsided by now, nobody knows what other hacks North Korea is working on at this very moment.
WannaCry Attack Linked to North Korea
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