The worldwide hack that surfaced on May 12—known as “WannaCry”—wreaked havoc on hundreds of thousands of computers across the globe and is one of the biggest ransomware hacks the world has ever experienced. The U.K.’s National Health Service was forced to reschedule surgeries and appointments, and Fortune 500 companies, along with other businesses, universities, government institutions, and hospitals throughout Asia and Europe also fell victim to the attack.
The WannaCry malware infects computers running an older version of Windows and then encrypts (or “seizes”) the data. After locking a victim out, WannaCry displays a message demanding a bitcoin payment within 7 days and threatens deletion of the data if no payment is received. Late on May 12, Microsoft issued a security patch that acted as a kill switch, protecting computers with the patch installed. This kill switch is believed to be the reason that companies in the United States remained relatively unscathed.
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