At this point, more than 200,000 systems have felt the sting of malware known as WannaCry; a ransomware attack that began on Friday May 12th of this year. This attack has led to doctors being blocked from access to patient files and charts and has even resulted in patients in desperate need of help being sent away from emergency rooms.
International efforts are now taking place to track down the criminals who are responsible for such an unprecedented global attack. The United States, Russia and the United Kingdom were among the 150 or more countries that were affected by the virus and investigators are working tirelessly to track down those who are responsible for this latest attack.
In the United Kingdom, authorities are scrambling to upgrade their security software fearing that another attack capitalizing on the same vulnerability could be imminent. In the meantime, UK’s National Health Service (NHS), the Government of the United Kingdom, and many other governments are faced with answering questions concerning preparedness against further attacks and the viability of systems that are currently set in place.
Meanwhile, cybercrime specialists working for Europol are offering support for countries affected by the virus and have launched their own investigation to try and track down the culprits in this case. Cyber criminals often believe that they are working completely anonymously, but investigators have assured the public that they have tools to bring these criminals to justice.
A British cyber-specialist, known as Malware Tech, has been called an “accidental hero” after registering a domain name that stopped the virus from spreading unexpectedly. The action taken by Malware Tech prevented the spread of the virus to more than 100,000 computers throughout the world.
In England & Scotland, hospitals were forced to cancel medical procedures after last Friday’s attack brought down dozens of NHS systems. Medical staff on hand at the time of the attack reported watching as computers went down “one by one,” taking hold of them, locking them down and demanding money to release data.
Recently here in the United States, reports have shown that it can take from several months to several years for a healthcare system to discover and report a breach to the Health and Human Services department. That same report showed that it took so long to report breaches in patient data because it sometimes took several years to even identify a breach. Analyzation of the report pointed out that healthcare organizations currently spend only about 10 percent of what other major industries in the U.S. spend on securing their data. With that in mind, it’s highly likely this story will continue to unfold in the near future.