During the last couple of days, the ransomware hack known as WannaCry and WannaCrypt has made a massive impact on hospitals, government agencies, schools, and other organisations all around the globe.
Even though this is probably one of the data security threats with the most impact in existence, luckily, the threat is now on the decline. Still, those who use older versions of Windows continue to be vulnerable to the hack. The threat of WannaCry is so huge that certain versions of operating systems, such as Windows XP, will receive an emergency patch even though they are no longer officially supported.
Once infected, the ransomware would lock you out of the system and demand a ransom to be paid in Bitcoin, since the untraceable nature of the cryptocurrency is quite handy for helping the culprits stay anonymous.
According to Jakub Kroustek, the ransomware appears to have hit over 100,000 systems, more than half in Russia.
Interestingly enough, the ransomware did have a kill switch coded into it, and activating it has helped to stop it from spreading. MalwareTech, a UK-based data security researcher, has noticed that the script was querying an unregistered domain. If the query was unsuccessful, the malware would lock up the system, otherwise nothing would happen. To prevent further damage, he quickly moved to snap it up.
However, if the culprits behind the script try something like this again, it is possible they will not make the same mistake, and exclude this feature in future versions.
Unfortunately, that did not solve the problem for those who have already been affected.