Remember WannaCry? If you don’t or never even heard about it, this latest public statement coming from the US will probably make sure you won’t. The ransomware that plagued Windows computers in the first half of the year has been blamed for not a few outages of computer systems all over the country, including some life-critical ones in hospitals. And now, the mastermind behind WannaCry has been finally unmasked. At least according to the US. And, unsurprisingly, it is pointing the finger at North Korea.
WannaCry worked like any other ransomware, encrypting files behind users’ backs and holding them for ransom. What made WannaCry devastating was its reach, affecting computers all over the globe but particularly those in the US. To add insult to injury, the perpetrators never really released the hostaged files even when the ransom was paid.
Thomas Bossert, assistant to the president for homeland security, described the attack as cowardly, costly, careless, reckless, and, most of all, life-threatening. While the usual ransomware simply targeted individuals for fun or profit, WannaCry indiscriminately infected government institutions as well as medical centers and hospitals. Bossert adds some amount of severity by saying how it threatened lives, even if indirectly.
Naturally, the US government is not amused but Bossert says it isn’t making the accusation lightly. Its allies like the UK also traced the attack back to North Korea. What sanctions the US has planned is still unknown at this point. You can, however, be sure that North Korea will have something to say about it. Hopefully using only words.
Bossert paints this as just the latest in a string of strong actions that the Trump administration has been taking to strengthen the US’ IT defenses and punish those who dare trespass. Recently, President Trump signed a law that would make it illegal to use Kaspersky’s software in government. The security company has been accused of feeding sensitive government data to its mother country of Russia. Kaspersky has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security challenging the ban.
SOURCE: Wall Street Journal