Security Flaw Allows Massive Cyber-Attack, Blamed on North Korean Group

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Screen shot from cyber-attack

A ransomware called WannaCry affected hundreds of thousands of computers in Europe and Asia over the last few days. It is said to be the worst cyber-attack ever. When people logged into their systems, a graphic popped up reading, “Oops, your files have been encrypted!” It threatened victims that if they did not pay an initial $300 through bitcoin (a virtual money system) within three days, or $600 within seven days, the files would be destroyed.

 

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there is no guarantee the encrypted files will be released, even if the ransom is paid. “It only guarantees that the malicious actors received the victim’s money, and in some cases, their banking information,” according to one official.

The security flaw allowing the attack is in Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system, an older version for which Microsoft no longer provides tech support. The attack has a worm function, so if just one person clicks on an infected attachment or bad link, all the computers on the network are infected.

 

Some of the institutions that were attacked:
  • A Spanish telecom company, gas company, and electric company
  • England’s National Health Service, including hospitals, doctors’ offices, emergency care facilities
  • Germany’s railway system
  • Schools in China
  • Hospitals in Indonesia
  • Automotive manufacturing plants in France and Romania
  • Brazil’s social security agency
  • FedEx (and a limited number of other U.S. firms)
The Lazarus Group, which is linked to North Korea, is thought to be behind the attack. They were responsible for a string of hacks dating back to at least 2009 and a 2014 attack on Sony that left its network offline for weeks.
 

In an apparently unrelated incident, the Disney company has also been hacked. The next installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, “Dead Men Tell No Tales” is being held ransom. Disney is working with the FBI and is refusing to pay the hackers.

 

Why this Matters: The hacking affected 230,000 systems in 150 countries. It spread quickly because the digital code was likely developed by the NSA and then leaked as pat of a document dump, according to researchers at the Moscow-based computer security firm Kaspersky Lab. Kaspersky is trying to develop a decryption tool as soon as possible.

How to Pray: Ask God for protection and pray that the culprits will be apprehended. Like all other criminals, may they be punished appropriately, and may the fear of being caught keep others from doing the same.

Numbers 32:23 …you have sinned against the Lord: 
and be sure your sin will find you out.
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