PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A massive cyberattack known as WannaCry wreaked havoc all over the world this past weekend, and although this particular ransomware is already dying out, new ones may be cropping up.
Experts say victims of WannaCry initially received an email asking them to download an attachment. A message then popped up demanding money while holding the computer hostage. Once the hackers were in, they could control everything stored on the computer.
Digital Trends Senior Editor Matt Smith told KOIN 6 News these types of attacks can be devastating.
“It spread very, very quickly,” Smith said. “The thing about the ransomware environment right now, there’s just so many threats happening. So even when one gets addressed and patched, there’s always another one.”
The recent cyberattack targeted government, businesses and hospitals.
Oregon Health & Science University officials said they hadn’t been affected by the ransomware, but they were aware of the attacks on other hospitals. Staff said they would continue to monitor and update their systems as a precaution.
Sen. Ron Wyden released this statement in response to the attack:
“This attack has reportedly infected more than 200,000 computers, including hospitals, businesses, and government facilities across the globe. The fact that ransomware based on a single vulnerability can cause such enormous damage should be a wakeup call to everyone about how vulnerable we are to cyberattacks. There is an urgent need to get to the bottom of how this happened and who is responsible.” – Sen. Ron Wyden
Smith said this particular ransomware took advantage of older operating systems, including Windows XP. He said people still using older systems should upgrade.
Microsoft released the following statement regarding the cyberattack:
“Those who are running our free antivirus software or have Windows Update enabled are protected. Given the potential impact to customers and their businesses, we have also released updates for Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003. For more information see our Microsoft Security Response Center blog; ‘Customer Guidance for WannaCrypt Attacks’ and our calling for global collective action in our Microsoft On The Issues blog.” – Microsoft
John Stephens with Luminant Digital Security said it’s important that people and organizations regularly back up data to protect themselves in the event of an attack.