In the previous part of this series, we looked at the countries that were hit the hardest by WannaCry ransomware. We also looked at Bitcoin and how the hackers used it for ransom payments to unlock infected computers.
The WannaCry ransomware cyberattack infected more than 230,000 computers in 150 countries. Computers with Microsoft (MSFT) operating systems that had not been updated with a particular patch were more prone to the ransomware attack, which encrypted most of the files on infected computers.
WannaCry’s connection with digital theft
On May 14, 2017, Microsoft highlighted in a blog the link between WannaCry and an exploit stolen earlier this year. It stated, “WannaCrypt exploits used in the attack were drawn from the exploits stolen from the National Security Agency, or NSA, in the United States. That theft was publicly reported earlier this year.”
On March 14, 2017, Microsoft released a security update to “patch this vulnerability.” Updated computers were protected. However, a significant number of computers across governments, businesses, and hospitals were not updated and thus were severely impacted.
Commenting on WannaCry ransomware, which Microsoft described as “only one type of cyberattack,” Microsoft went on to criticize governments (SPY), saying, “This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem.” It added, “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.”
Microsoft compared these thefts with “the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen.”