Cyber security experts are still scrambling to contain a global ransomware attack that has infected tens of thousands of computers in nearly 100 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Russia, China, Ukraine, and India.
First, there were reports of Spain’s largest telecom being hit with pop-up windows demanding a $300 ransom, paid in the cryptocurrency bitcoin, to access files. Then, at least 16 hospitals in England’s National Health Service were affected, locking doctors and nurses out of patients’ records unless they paid up. Then came word that networks around the world were under attack Friday.
The attacks are being blamed on a piece of malware called WCry, WannaCry or Wana Decryptor, alleged to have been stolen from the National Security Agency, as the Bleeping Computer site reports. It was reportedly distributed by the Shadow Brokers, which claimed to have hacked an NSA-linked team of hackers last August.
The Shadow Brokers group, which is suspected of having ties to Russia, posted Windows hacking tools last month.
“The problem is, once you break in, you make digital keys, you can’t really control who gets them,” tech reporter Aarti Shahani told Weekend Edition Saturday. “So this attack is raising one of these fundamental issues that we talk about in the security world, about whether NSA surveillance protects people or creates unexpected damage that does more harm than good.”
Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked evidence of the agency’s data collection program in 2013, has spoken out on Twitter to criticise the NSA for building this “dangerous attack tool.” Yesterday he posted a New York Times article detailing the attack on the NHS in the UK, writing, “Today we see the cost.”