A ransomware known as WannaCry, Wcry or WannaCrypt has infected millions of computers around the world. This includes the National Health Service in the UK and FedEx in US.
WannaCry makes computers unusable by encrypting the user’s files. It then asks the for a $300 ransom to restore the files. It even doubles the ransom after 6 hours!
WannaCry Victims Worldwide
It wreaked havoc across Europe, the United States and Asia where the ransomware spread rapidly. Computers in hospitals, train stations, schools, offices and homes were rendered unusable.
Researchers have found the ransomware in computers of some Philippine companies too.
Many victims paid the $300 ransom. The culprit has amassed around $18,000.
The Kill Switch
Thankfully, a 22-year old security researcher (@malwaretechblog on Twitter) has stopped the ransomware from spreading further by hitting its ‘kill switch’.
WannaCry connects to a randomly typed domain for some reason. When this fails, it continues to run. The researcher simply registered this domain name leading to a decrease in infected computers.
How to Prevent WannaCry Infection?
The ransomware can still be restarted. Computers running on Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003 are vulnerable. Microsoft has already issued a patch to protect these computers from WannaCry and similar exploits.
If you’re running an older version of Windows, follow Microsoft’s guide on how to prevent the infection here. Windows 10 is thankfully not vulnerable to the ransomware.