In many ways, technology makes our lives so much easier and more efficient. Unfortunately, with its benefits also come certain risks – as many around the world discovered when a malware cyber attack swept the globe. In simple terms, malware is any software which is specifically designed to disrupt, damage, or gain access to a computer system. Ransomware is a kind of malware that involves hackers taking control of a computer system and blocking access to it until a ransom is paid.
Wanna Decryptor, also known as WannaCry or wcry, was the ransomware disseminated in this case. The attack spanned several countries across the world and mainly involved the spread of malicious software to various devices, bringing many people’s day-to-day activities to an abrupt standstill. In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) was affected as 47 NHS trusts or hospitals, resulting in operations being cancelled and patients being sent back home. So far, it is thought that over 200,000 organisations in 150 countries have been affected.
The “WannaCry” ransomware seems to have capitalized on a flaw in Microsoft’s software, and this allowed it to spread rapidly across networks and lock away files. Most affected by the ransomware attack are said to have been Windows 7 users. Such programs infiltrate computers by tricking users into downloading them, either through dodgy emails or suspicious links. The WannaCry package then locked away all files present on the device, leaving two folders: one containing the Wanna Decryptor itself and another containing instructions on what to do next, which was mainly to pay a certain amount in online currency Bitcoin. The outbreak has made the world sit up and take notice of web security risks, and a new warning about WhatsApp is reminding to stay vigilant.