White House estimates 300,000 computers infected globally
WannaCry is a type of ransomware -- a computer virus that locks down a computer and allows access only once a ransom is paid to the hacker.
Those infected with WannaCry were informed their files would be released if they paid $300 in digital currency Bitcoin, although the ransoms were reportedly up to $600 by Monday afternoon.
The virus tore through the Internet Friday, beginning in the United Kingdom and spread to 150 countries throughout the day. Three days later, reports of WannaCry are now spiking in Asia.
The attack has effected governments, hospitals and corporations, especially those running outdated computer systems.
White House Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert said WannaCry has not infected the federal government’s systems but the U.S. is working to identify the culprits and a foreign government may be involved.
“We have not ruled that out,” Bossert said Monday when asked if WannaCry was state-sponsored, “but attribution is always a little difficult here”.
Soon after the attack became public, Microsoft rushed a security patch for its Windows XP operating system even though it ended support for Windows XP in 2014. The company published a strongly worded blog post Sunday that criticized governments for “stockpiling” information on potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
Microsoft said the hack was derived from an exploit developed by the NSA that was stolen and leaked to the public earlier this year.
“Repeatedly, exploits in the hands of governments have leaked into the public domain and caused widespread damage,” wrote Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer. “An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen. And this most recent attack represents a completely unintended but disconcerting link between the two most serious forms of cybersecurity threats in the world today – nation-state action and organized criminal action.”