Hackers Are Attempting To Resurrect WannaCry

21 May 2017, 9:31 am EDT By Eric Brackett Tech Times
WannaCry 'hero' Marcus Hutchins arrested over malware creation
The WannaCry malware was successfully brought to a halt last week, but the fight to keep it dead is just getting started. Cybersecurity experts warn that hackers are trying to bring the malware back to life.  ( Pixabay )

The recent WannaCry epidemic was one of the most widespread cyber attacks in history, but was thought to have been brought to a halt last week. However, like the plot of a bad '80s movie, hackers are attempting to resurrect the malware.

The Original Fix

WannaCry spread to as many as 150 countries before it was finally stopped thanks to the work of numerous digital security researchers, most prominently Markus Hutchins.

When WannaCry first infects a computer it reaches out to a seemingly random web address as part of a test to make sure it is not under scrutiny. Hutchins discovered that by registering the domain name found in the malware's code he was able to shut down the program by turning the domain into a "sinkhole" site used by cybersecurity experts to safely contain the malware.

An Army Of Bots

Unsurprisingly, as soon as the news of the fix went public, hackers began working to take the site down using DDOS attacks. The hackers used webcams, modems, and other internet-enabled devices that had been infected with the Mirai malware into tools to flood the sinkhole site with traffic in order to bring it down so that WannaCry could be brought back online.

"Pretty much as soon as it went public what had happened, one of the Mirai botnets started on the sinkhole," Hutchins told Wired.

Cybersecurity experts have managed to fight off the DDOS attacks, but if they fail then WannaCry could make a comeback though it wouldn't be instantaneous. The malware stops searching for new victims 24 hours after it is installed on a computer. However, when those machines are rebooted then the program would be reactivated.

"The ones that were successfully encrypted are in this zombie state, where they're waiting to be reactivated if that domain goes away," said Matt Olney, a researcher for the cybersecurity company Cisco.

Some People Just Want To Watch The World Burn

While the original group behind the spread of WannaCry was acting for financial gain, Hutchinson said he does not believe this new group is connected to them. Rather, he thinks they are simply doing this for the amusement of watching the virus spread.

"They've obviously got no financial incentive," said Hutchins. "They're not the ransomware developers They're just doing it to cause pain."

While these hackers may seem like little more than immature internet trolls, they're actions could have severe real-world consequences. Britain's National Health Service reported that the WannaCry attacks resulted in thousands of appointments and operations being cancelled.

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Eric Brackett Tech Times editor Eric Brackett is a tech junkie and a gamer, covering science and technology. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter for updates and his random thoughts on the latest trends in gaming, tech, and comic books.

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