Tags: malware | attack | kill | switch | ransomware

Malware Attack Kill Switch Halts Spread of Ransomware in US

Image: Malware Attack Kill Switch Halts Spread of Ransomware in US
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By    |   Monday, 15 May 2017 07:57 AM

A malware attack kill switch was all it took to stop a global cyber assault from spreading in the U.S. this weekend, but before the brake was thrown thousands of computers in Europe and Russia were affected and ransoms were demanded. Experts were bracing for a new attack.

U.S. intelligence officials confirmed that private cybersecurity experts were able to identify and trigger the malware's kill switch to stop its spread throughout the United States, reported ABC News.

European and Russian computers had been left vulnerable to the malicious global cyberattack that used leaked National Security Agency tools to exploit Microsoft Windows and spread ransomware around the world.

"(A new attack) is a huge concern right now," Darien Huss, a senior security research engineer at Proofpoint, told ABC News. "It would not be very difficult at all to re-release this ransomware attack without a kill switch or without an approved kill switch that only they can activate."

The website The Intercept reported that an entity known as the "Shadow Brokers" leaked computer software tools that in turn were being used against the general public.

"The malware worm taking over the computers goes by the names 'WannaCry' or 'Wanna Decryptor,'" explained The Intercept's Sam Biddle. "It spreads from machine to machine silently and remains invisible to users until it unveils itself as so-called ransomware, telling users that all their files have been encrypted with a key known only to the attacker and that they will be locked out until they pay $300 to an anonymous party using the cryptocurrency Bitcoin."

"At this point, one's computer would be rendered useless for anything other than paying said ransom. The price rises to $600 after a few days; after seven days, if no ransom is paid, the hacker (or hackers) will make the data permanently inaccessible."

The BBC News reported that computers in about 150 countries have been infected, and it's believed that $38,000 has been paid in ransom as of Monday morning.

Microsoft blamed governments for storing data on software that was accessible by hackers.

"… This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem," said Brad Smith, Microsoft president and chief legal officer. "This is an emerging pattern in 2017."

"We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world. Repeatedly, exploits in the hands of governments have leaked into the public domain and caused widespread damage. An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen."

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A malware attack kill switch was all it took to stop a global cyber assault from spreading in the U.S. this weekend, but before the brake was thrown thousands of computers in Europe and Russia were affected and ransoms were demanded. Experts were bracing for a new attack.
malware, attack, kill, switch, ransomware
439
2017-57-15
Monday, 15 May 2017 07:57 AM
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