Despite a “highly unusual” patch from Microsoft to update their long unsupported operating systems and an apparent “kill code” that could allegedly bring an end to the ransomware, the Wanncrypt/Wannacry attack continues to grow around the globe. According to BBC News, at least “200,000 victims in at least 150 countries” have been affected by the bug and the biggest threat seems to be businesses still running outdated or unsecured Windows systems. The attack began its spread on Friday, hitting computers in Russia, Europe, and the UK, and nearly bringing the National Health Service in England to a halt.
According to the New York Times, the kill switch was only a temporary stop to the spread of the bug and the hackers behind the attack could “create a variant” of their domain and continue, something Comae Technologies Matthieu Suiche expected them to do. Now that the ransomware is back on the move, Europol’s Rob Wainwright is fearing the worst:
“At the moment, we are in the face of an escalating threat,” he told the British network ITV on Sunday. “The numbers are going up. I am worried about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn their machines on Monday morning.”
Among the organizations hit were FedEx in the United States, the Spanish telecom giant Telefónica, the French automaker Renault, universities in China, Germany’s federal railway system and Russia’s powerful Interior Ministry. The most disruptive attacks infected Britain’s public health system, where surgeries had to be rescheduled and some patients were turned away from emergency rooms.
The same Times report indicates that the “kill code” or “kill switch” was one of the main reasons the bug had failed to spread to the United States at this point. That may not be the case by Monday morning once folks return to work and get their week underway. As shared over at Gizmodo, this video shows just how fast the virus can spread to a neighboring computer — allegedly without any executable on the neighboring machine.
If that’s not enough to force you to upgrade or update your computer a bit, not much will.
The silver lining to this story, if it can be considered a silver lining, is that the hackers have apparently only received a small amount of money from the attack. As Krebs on Security points out (via Gizmodo), the scam’s outright global cost will exceed the ransoms paid: