An unprecedented cyber attack has been perpetrated on 15o+ countries and has affected hundreds of thousands of computers. Beginning on Friday, the attack began and locked up computers operating under the Windows XP system, a program that has since been unsupported with updates by Microsoft. In the wake of the attacks, Microsoft quickly acted and attempted to slow the tide of disruptions by producing security patches.
The ransomware locked up computers around the global and demanded $300 as payment for the data not being deleted. This bitcoin account has already netted $30K in ransom to date. Authorities have been instructing people and companies not to pay the ransom, but the existence of a “countdown” screen that warns of the imminent erasure of all data on the system is an added feature of the attack that has prompted thousands to pay the price.
Microsoft, in an effort to remain above the fray of blame, had some harsh words for the U.S. Government.
On Sunday night, Microsoft slammed the US spy agency that had originally developed software that allowed the ransomware attack to infect computers. The “Eternal Blue” tool developed by the National Security Agency had been dumped onto the public internet by a hacking group known as the Shadow Brokers.
It was then used by the still-anonymous cyber criminals to infect PCs with Friday's ransomware.
“The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call,” in a statement, Microsoft president Brad Smith said. “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.”
The implications of this attack are many-fold and it's not even over yet. Rest assured that where there are attacks of this nature once, there will be more in the future. The probability of another soon is even more firm when you consider the fact the perpetrators of this scam actually managed to steal tens of thousands of dollars.
Perhaps it's not too far off to consider that one day, hackers will break into NORAD or some other government agency with the power to unleash holy hell on our enemies. Perhaps, Microsoft isn't too far off the mark when they speak about the Tomahawk missiles being absconded with and used as ransom.
Perhaps my initial analogy about “Wargames” is not that far off the mark. Let's just pray that our government is taking this threat as seriously as they should. If history is correct, we're about ready for another all-out war and if cyber hacking is the culprit, God knows what new threats will come of it.