Hackers, using a cyber tool called “EternalBlue” developed by the U.S. National Security Agency which exploits security features of Microsoft Windows, have developed a ransomware variant called “WannaCry”.
The cyber weapon encrypts the user’s files, effectively locking them out of their system. The user is then prompted to pay a sum of bitcoins to the ransomers’ account. Failure to pay the ransom within the allotted time results in the ‘ransom’ doubling until permanent lock-out is activated if payment is not made.
Authorities believe ‘wannacry’ initially infected “patient zero” via an email scam, it then spread laterally across interconnected networks across the globe. Reports state that as many as 45,000 entities in 72 countries have been hit as at Friday 12th, 2017.
The ransomware has hit financial institutions, energy companies, logistics companies etc. Health care institutions in the UK seemed to have been most severely hit as hundreds of them have had to move patients, cancel operations or close entire departments due to the outbreak.
The outbreak was expected to worsen over the weekend.