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NHS cyberattack: security expert accidentally flicks the ‘kill switch’ on the ransomware

Getty Images / UniversalImagesGroup / Contributor Update 13.05.2017: The NHS cyberattack appears to be slowing down after a security researcher says he “accidentally” hit the kill switch on the ransomware . Writing on the blog @malwaretechblog, the unnamed malware expert registered a domain name used by Wanna Decryptor, or WannaCrypt, and inadvertently killed it . The National
Cyber Security Centre then repurposed the blog1 to spread the message.

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Original story The NHS cyberattack that hit hospitals across the UK is said to have been part of the biggest ransomware outbreak in history, according to Mikko Hypponen from F-Secure. Viruses, trojans, malware, worms – what’s the difference?2

Viruses, trojans, malware, worms – what’s the difference?


Commenting on the news, Hypponen said the Wanna Decryptor attack was unprecedented, while cyber security expert Varun Badwhar said it gave a glimpse of what a “cyber-apocalypse” would look like.

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“We’ve never seen something spread this quickly in a 24-hour period across this many countries and continents,” explained Badwhar. “So it’s definitely one of those things we’ve always heard about that could happen and now we’re seeing it play out.”

The NHS hack is said to be creeping across the UK with reports of the ransomware attack hitting a range of other organisations in as many as 99 countries . In a statement, NHS Digital3 confirmed a number of NHS organisations had been affected by a ransomware attack . The investigation is at an early stage but we believe the malware variant is Wanna Decryptor4, a spokesperson said.

Subscribe to WIRED5

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At this stage, we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed . We will continue to work with affected organisations to confirm this. Hackers use ransomware6 to infect a computer or system before holding files hostage until a ransom is paid . It can infect a computer via a trojan, virus or worm. Wanna Decryptor encrypts users files using AES and RSA encryption ciphers meaning the hackers can directly decrypt system files using a unique decryption key . Victims may be sent ransom notes with instructions in the form of !Please Read Me!.txt files, linking to ways of contacting the cybercriminals .

Wanna Decryptor changes the computer’s wallpaper with messages (as seen in tweets from affected NHS sites) asking the victim to download a decryptor from Dropbox . This decryptor demands hundreds in bitcoin7 to work. Affected machines are said to have six hours to pay, and every few hours the ransom goes up. “Most folks that have paid up appear to have paid the initial $300 in the first few hours,” said Kurt Baumgartner, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab. They added that the attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS because it is affecting “organisations from across a range of sectors” and NHS Digital is working with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and NHS England to support affected organisations. The NHS incident appears to be part of a global cybersecurity incident with malware spreading to multiple organisations around the world . Security firm Check Point and Avast have said there have been 75,000 attacks in 99 countries . Telefonica in Spain has been the biggest confirmed incident outside of the UK but it also reports issues in Russia, Turkey, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, and Germany.

ADVERTISEMENT

A spokesman for the National Cyber Security Centre8 and National Crime Agency said they were responding to an “ongoing international cyber incident” and confirmed there was no indication medical data or personal information has been compromised.” The specialist cyber crime officers from the NCA and police forces are now working with hospitals to respond to the attack preserve evidence . Read their advice on protecting yourself from ransomware9. A live map10 tracking the malware has plotted thousands of incidents around the world . Although, it is not confirmed these are all the latest version of the malware . This map tracks incidents of wcrypt and reveals how many of the botnets are online, and offline, in real-time . A Unique IP chart below the map reveals the number of new botnets coming online, and the total . As of 7.17pm BST, there were 189 new, and 1,821 total botnets (up from nine just an hour earlier.) It is said that 24 NHS organisations have been hit .

The full list is below:

  • Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Wingate Medical Centre
  • NHS Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust
  • East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust
  • George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust in Nuneaton, Warwickshire
  • Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
  • St Barts Health NHS Trust
  • Derbyshire Community Health Services
  • East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group
  • East and North Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Sherwood Forest NHS Trust
  • Nottinghamshire Healthcare
  • Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Colchester General Hospital
  • Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust
  • North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • Morecombe Bay NHS Trust
  • University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust
  • NHS Hampshire Hospitals
  • Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

References

  1. ^ blog (www.ncsc.gov.uk)
  2. ^ Viruses, trojans, malware, worms – what’s the difference? (www.wired.co.uk)
  3. ^ NHS Digital (digital.nhs.uk)
  4. ^ Wanna Decryptor (www.wired.co.uk)
  5. ^ Subscribe to WIRED (www.wired.co.uk)
  6. ^ ransomware (wired.uk)
  7. ^ bitcoin (www.wired.co.uk)
  8. ^ National Cyber Security Centre (www.wired.co.uk)
  9. ^ protecting yourself from ransomware (www.ncsc.gov.uk)
  10. ^ live map (intel.malwaretech.com)

NHS cyberattack is ‘biggest ransomware outbreak in history’

Getty Images / UniversalImagesGroup / Contributor The NHS cyberattack that hit hospitals across the UK is said to have been part of the biggest ransomware outbreak in history, according to Mikko Hypponen from F-Secure. Viruses, trojans, malware, worms – what’s the difference?1

Viruses, trojans, malware, worms – what’s the difference?


ADVERTISEMENT

Commenting on the news, Hypponen said the Wanna Decryptor attack was unprecedented, while cyber security expert Varun Badwhar said it gave a glimpse of what a “cyber-apocalypse” would look like.

“We’ve never seen something spread this quickly in a 24-hour period across this many countries and continents,” explained Badwhar. “So it’s definitely one of those things we’ve always heard about that could happen and now we’re seeing it play out.” The NHS hack is said to be creeping across the UK with reports of the ransomware attack hitting a range of other organisations in as many as 99 countries . In a statement, NHS Digital2 confirmed a number of NHS organisations had been affected by a ransomware attack . The investigation is at an early stage but we believe the malware variant is Wanna Decryptor3, a spokesperson said. Subscribe to WIRED4 At this stage, we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed . We will continue to work with affected organisations to confirm this.

ADVERTISEMENT

Hackers use ransomware5 to infect a computer or system before holding files hostage until a ransom is paid . It can infect a computer via a trojan, virus or worm. Wanna Decryptor encrypts users files using AES and RSA encryption ciphers meaning the hackers can directly decrypt system files using a unique decryption key . Victims may be sent ransom notes with instructions in the form of !Please Read Me!.txt files, linking to ways of contacting the cybercriminals . Wanna Decryptor changes the computer’s wallpaper with messages (as seen in tweets from affected NHS sites) asking the victim to download a decryptor from Dropbox . This decryptor demands hundreds in bitcoin6 to work. Affected machines are said to have six hours to pay, and every few hours the ransom goes up. “Most folks that have paid up appear to have paid the initial $300 in the first few hours,” said Kurt Baumgartner, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

ADVERTISEMENT

They added that the attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS because it is affecting “organisations from across a range of sectors” and NHS Digital is working with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and NHS England to support affected organisations. The NHS incident appears to be part of a global cybersecurity incident with malware spreading to multiple organisations around the world . Security firm Check Point and Avast have said there have been 75,000 attacks in 99 countries . Telefonica in Spain has been the biggest confirmed incident outside of the UK but it also reports issues in Russia, Turkey, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, and Germany.

ADVERTISEMENT

A spokesman for the National Cyber Security Centre7 and National Crime Agency said they were responding to an “ongoing international cyber incident” and confirmed there was no indication medical data or personal information has been compromised.” The specialist cyber crime officers from the NCA and police forces are now working with hospitals to respond to the attack preserve evidence . Read their advice on protecting yourself from ransomware8. A live map9 tracking the malware has plotted thousands of incidents around the world . Although, it is not confirmed these are all the latest version of the malware . This map tracks incidents of wcrypt and reveals how many of the botnets are online, and offline, in real-time .

A Unique IP chart below the map reveals the number of new botnets coming online, and the total . As of 7.17pm BST, there were 189 new, and 1,821 total botnets (up from nine just an hour earlier.) It is said that 24 NHS organisations have been hit .

The full list is below:

  • Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Wingate Medical Centre
  • NHS Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust
  • East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust
  • George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust in Nuneaton, Warwickshire
  • Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
  • St Barts Health NHS Trust
  • Derbyshire Community Health Services
  • East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group
  • East and North Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Sherwood Forest NHS Trust
  • Nottinghamshire Healthcare
  • Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Colchester General Hospital
  • Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust
  • North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • Morecombe Bay NHS Trust
  • University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust
  • NHS Hampshire Hospitals
  • Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

References

  1. ^ Viruses, trojans, malware, worms – what’s the difference? (www.wired.co.uk)
  2. ^ NHS Digital (digital.nhs.uk)
  3. ^ Wanna Decryptor (www.wired.co.uk)
  4. ^ Subscribe to WIRED (www.wired.co.uk)
  5. ^ ransomware (wired.uk)
  6. ^ bitcoin (www.wired.co.uk)
  7. ^ National Cyber Security Centre (www.wired.co.uk)
  8. ^ protecting yourself from ransomware (www.ncsc.gov.uk)
  9. ^ live map (intel.malwaretech.com)

Police set up shop to offer residents and cyclists security advice

Cyclists are being given to get their bikes security-marked and they will be able to get advice on cybercrime, as well as home and shed security at a pop-up shop in Chesterfield. The Chesterfield Town Centre Safer Neighbourhood Policing Team will be hosting the event between 10am and 2pm, on Thursday, April 27, in the Vicar Lane Shopping Centre. They will be setting up in Unit 4, off Steeplegate – formerly Vision Express – and residents and shoppers will be invited to drop in and speak to officers to find out how they can reduce the risk of becoming a victim of crime. People can also bring their bicycles along for officers to security mark. The event has been set up as part of a series of pop-up crime prevention shops in Chesterfield town centre. PCSO Hayley Grundy of the Chesterfield Town Centre Safer Neighbourhood Policing Team said: Our last event in March was really popular, so we re delighted to offer residents and shoppers the chance to call in and see us again. We ll be offering advice on a wide range of crime prevention issues, from online cyber safety to home, vehicle or shed security.

You can also come along and speak about any concerns or issues with a local officer and cyclists can bring their bikes for security marking ready for the warmer, lighter months.

For more information, or to speak to a member of the Chesterfield Town Centre Safer Neighbourhood Policing Team call 101, or send them a message through the website www.derbyshire.police.uk.

People can also follow the team and their work on Twitter: @ChesterfieldSNT.