Home Malware WannaCry 5 years on: Still a top threat

WannaCry 5 years on: Still a top threat

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Who doesn’t love an anniversary and the opportunity to reminisce about “where we were” when an historical event happened? Such is the case over the last several days when it comes to remembering WannaCry, the ransomware that infected thousands of computers five years ago and cost companies all over the world billions of dollars in damages.

WannaCry broke onto the infosec scene on May 12, 2017. Taking advantage of the vulnerable version of the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol, it ultimately infected approximately 200,000+ machines in more than 150 countries. While Microsoft had issued a patch for the SMB flaw more than a month before the attacks began, millions of computers had not been unpatched against the bug. The largest ransomware attack ever, it impacted several big names globally, including the UK’s National Health Service, US delivery giant FedEx, and Deutsche Bahn, the German railway company.

“This historic attack was one of the biggest of all time and destroyed hundreds of thousands of computers, almost exclusively targeting large corporations. Companies all over the world were infected: hospitals, car factories, power plants, train companies—the list goes on,” wrote Mikko Hyppönen, a highly-respected security veteran and currently Chief Research Officer at WithSecure. 

The attack was eventually attributed to North Korea’s Lazarus Group. But what is perhaps most notable about WannaCry is that it opened eyes to the coming plague that is ransomware today. While not new, it got people talking about this kind of malware, which until that point was not nearly as well-known. On Twitter, infosec influencers traded a few stories from the day and reflected on lessons learned.

“Today is the 5th anniversary of the Wannacry ransomware incident, which began as a spillover from a North Korean cyberattack. The spillover eventually brought the NHS to its knees until a lucky Brit bought a kill switch domain, halting it in its tracks,” tweeted Gareth Corfield (@GaztheJourno), a writer covering technology and security for the Telegraph’s business section.

That Brit mentioned by Corfield was then-22-year-old Marcus Hutchins (@MalwareTechBlog), a hugely popular influencer in the security space on Twitter who did a lot of his own reminiscing on the anniversary date.  Hailed as a hero to this day for his discovery of the kill switch that stopped the continued spread of the ransomware, he said press inquiries were pouring in.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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