News began surfacing a few hours ago about what appears to be a massive, worldwide, cyberattack. A new ransomware variant called WannaCry appears to be spreading rapidly around the world.
Similar to prior ransomware attacks, this malware infects a computer and encrypts all the data it can find, rendering the information inaccessible until the victim pays a ransom in Bitcoin to unlock the files.
Reports this afternoon cite several European countries as being hit with the attacks, as well as some reports coming in from the United States and Asia.
Some security researchers are stating that they believe this new ransomware variant is being fueled by revelations surrounding hacking tools that were stolen and exposed from the National Security Agency.
The attack is being described as a cyber weapon of mass destruction (WMD) as it is targeting a known exploit by scanning the Internet for at risk machines and targeting the attack to email addresses associated to them. A falsified email is then sent to the user of the at risk machine with an attachment that says it is an invoice or other meaningful item. The attachment is actually a zip file, that when opened, delivers the malware.
These reports are fluid and unfolding in real-time. I recommend all users exercise extreme caution with any links or attachments and simply do not click or open, until more is known about the developing threat.
This image shows the WannaCry distribution across the world on May 12, 2017