QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“As we’ve come to realize, the idea that security starts and ends with the purchase of a prepackaged firewall is simply misguided”
– Art Wittmann
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CRYPTOCURRENCY MINING VIRUS MIGHT SHOCK USERS MORE THAN WANNACRY
Developed through leaked NSA Tools, the digital currency mining virus could be bigger than WannaCry
WHAT IS IT?
After the recent large-scale ransomware attack last Friday, a new threat has surfaced indicative of an even large scale attack. Known as Cryptocurrency Mining Virus, this new cyber weapon is unique among most other malware lurking on the internet. It uses the same vulnerabilities previously exploited by WannaCry and latches itself onto a computer.
However, instead of interfering with user data, the virus installs a cryptocurrency mining tool on the system. The tool then uses the computer’s power and automatically generates digital currency for hackers. Unlike other viruses it doesn’t mess with users’ files or data, rather uses the system’s processing to generate money for its creators.
NSA TOOLS BEING USED FOR ATTACKS
The worst part about the attack is use of leaked NSA tools (more like cyberweapons) named ‘EternalBlue’ and ‘DoublePulsar’ that exploited SBM networking and created backdoors to inject the WannaCry virus in user’s systems. The same mechanism is being used by Crytocurrency Mining Virus. This clearly shows how stockpiling of such technologies by NSA can only bring more harm than good.
POSSIBLE NORTH KOREAN INVOLVEMENT?
Here, the currency in question was Monero, another popular digital currency. This is again linked with involvement of North Korean hackers (also associated with WannaCry attack) by experts. This is certainly due to similarity between both viruses, which attack the same loophole sounds much more than mere coincidence. Although, government authorities have clarified such evidence is still not conclusive to make any assumptions.
HOW BIG IS THE THREAT?
As per reports more than 200,000 computers in US alone were infected with this virus, long before WannaCry made its move. Experts suggest this could’ve also prevented WannaCry from spreading extensively as it targets the same vulnerability exploited by WannaCry.
According to various researchers and IT experts, this attack could’ve been more widespread than WannaCry. This is simply due to insufficient reported cases as it works silently in the background and allows computers to operate normally. Nevertheless, they also suggest it could also degrade computers over time as it hogs on system resources and memory to generate digital money for hackers.
WANNACRYPT THREAT LIKELY TO PROLONG DUE TO WINDOWS PIRACY
Lack of security patches on pirated windows makes WannaCry/WannaCrypt more persistent and widespread infections in China, Russia and India.
WHAT SEEMS TO BE THE PROBLEM?
WannaCry attack last week is a warning to all computer users that regardless of how safe they assume themselves to be, things are quite the opposite. WannaCry ransomware exploited a loophole in windows operating system and infected almost 300,000 systems (and counting) till date. While Microsoft have released various update packages for their operating systems (even Windows XP) to fix this vulnerability, main issue arises from numbers of systems running on pirated Windows OS.
WHY UNLICENSED WINDOWS IS PROBLEMATIC?
While it is convenient for licensed Windows users to install regular Microsoft updates on their system, computers with pirated copies are hardly updated. Statistics also show a shocking number of unlicensed Windows users in countries badly hit by the virus. China takes the number one spot with more than 70% computers operating on pirated software, with Russia (64%) and India (58%) taking the remaining two spots. What’s more shocking is the various prestigious institutions, corporations and companies in China are also using pirated and unlicensed software leading to nearly 40,000 systems being affected in the country.
WITH KILL-SWITCH DISABLED, THIS COULD LEAD WANNACRY TO RESURFACE
A cyber-researcher found a kill-switch hidden in WannaCry that helped disable the malware and stop infections from spreading massively. However, there are reports of this being removed in newer strains of this virus and systems running on older versions of Windows face imminent security threat.
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