It has been 5 months since the WannaCry ransomware took down thousands of computers across the globe, and yet, the hackers behind it have not been found. the ransomware infected computers over the network by encrypting files and asked victims to pay between $300 to $600 in bitcoins (a cryptocurrency) to decrypt the files for future use.
The attackers further concealed their identity by converting the bitcoins into another virtual currency called Monero -an open source private untraceable currency that is considered to be more anonymous than the bitcoins as it require no account details to sign up. Monero can be used for making purchases in the deep web (part of web which cannot be detected by any standard search engine).
More than 3,00,000 computers were attacked in over 100 countries, the worst hit was Britain’s national health service, affecting 36 hospitals across the country. Globally companies that were affected include Nissan motors,FedEx , China National Petroleum, Renault SA, Hitachi, Sberbank of Russia and Russian interior ministry. Most of the companies were using the older version of Windows Software thus the threat around WannaCry ransomware increased, India was the third worst hit country.
Incidents were reported from some part of Kerala and Gujarat, in Odisha a government run hospital was affected, The West-Bengal electricity distribution company and the Southern Railway divisions suffered glitches.
The damage could have been worse had Marcus Hutchins , a 22-year old cyber security researcher, not activated a kill switch. His ‘accidental ‘ discovery stopped the attack from further spreading, he named his ‘kill switch’ contrary to WannaCry ‘WannaHappy; researchers were able to work on recovering the data to some extent.
As per the bot watching the bitcoin wallets tied to the ransomware attack , as on May 22 the perpetrators collected 48.86 bitcoins- estimated to be worth $104,436. According to IBM and Ponemon Institute’s Cost of Data Breach Study 2017 , the average cost of data breach for Indian companies surveyed is ’11 crore ; whereas, globally, the average cost of data breach in 2017 is $3.62 million.
The experts said “the main motive was not extortion of money but something more. An attack of such high caliber , was designed to asses the preparedness , and the impact of what such an attack could create”. perhaps the worst is yet to come and the world should be ready for it.