News Roundup: WannaCry, Google I/O, and Chelsea’s free
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News Roundup: WannaCry, Google I/O, and Chelsea’s free

A roundup of the week’s tech new including drone base jumping, Chicken VR, and Sina Weibo.

WannaCry

Last week, what started as a major ransomware attack on the UK’s NHS quickly spread to be a major attack across Europe and further afield.

The WannaCry ransomware – which uses a Windows XP zero day exploit originally found but not publicly revealed by the NSA – gains entry via the network, not the traditional phishing email, and demands $300 in bitcoin payments, but those who have paid have apparently had their files decrypted. Security experts, however, always advise not to pay the ransoms.

The Shadow Brokers – the group which leaked the original NSA exploit last month – has threatened to release more of the agency’s hoarded exploits in the near future.

Fresh instances of the attack were stopped by a UK security blogger known as Malware Tech, who registered a domain found within the WannaCry code as a sinkhole. MT turned out to be 22-year-old Marcus Hutchins, who works for US threat intelligence company Kryptos Logic. A second wave of attacks was stopped via a similar sinkhole method.

So far, the ransomware has made around $91,000, according to Elliptic.co. Given the relatively small amount for such a headline-generating attack, current theories either point to a state-sponsored  attack – some suggest North Korea – designed to create more carnage than profit, or possibly an amateur attack far more effective than its creators could have hoped for.

In an effort to further prevent fresh infections, Microsoft has issued patches for Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003, systems the company had hoped to have stopped worrying about. As our own Phil Muncaster points out however, China’s large (and mostly unlicensed) XP install base could pose a big problem if it starts to spread. Over 20,000 IP addresses in China are reported to have been affected so far.

Many were critical of the NSA’s hoarding of such vulnerabilities in the first place, with Ed Snowden saying that if the NSA had told Microsoft about the exploit when they found it, hospitals could have had far longer to patch their systems. Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith likened the scenario of exploits stolen from the NSA to “the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen”.

Former NSA Director Keith Alexander defended the agency’s actions, saying it needs tools and releases 90+% of what they find, “but to go after a terrorist you need an exploit.”

Chelsea walks free

After seven years in prison, Chelsea Manning is now free to walk the streets. Manning served 2,545 days in military captivity – often in solitary confinement – after leaking information to WikiLeaks in 2010. Barack Obama granted Manning clemency in January just before leaving office.

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect. Writes about all manner of tech, from driverless cars , AI, and Green IT to Cloudy stuff, security, and IoT. Dislikes autoplay ads/videos and garbage written about 'milliennials'.  

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