News by Professionals 4 Professionals

taiwan

Researchers see possible North Korea link to global cyber attack

By Dustin Volz[1] | WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON Cyber security researchers have found technical clues they said could link North Korea with the global WannaCry “ransomware” cyber attack that has infected more than 300,000 machines in 150 countries since Friday.

Symantec and Kaspersky Lab said on Monday some code in an earlier version of the WannaCry software had also appeared in programs used by the Lazarus Group, which researchers from many companies have identified as a North Korea-run hacking operation.

“This is the best clue we have seen to date as to the origins of WannaCry,” Kaspersky Lab researcher Kurt Baumgartner told Reuters.

Both firms said it was too early to tell whether North Korea was involved in the attacks, which slowed to a crawl on Monday but have already become one of the fastest-spreading extortion campaigns on record.

The cyber companies’ research will be closely followed by law enforcement agencies around the world, including Washington, where U.S. President Donald Trump’s homeland security adviser said on Monday that both foreign nations and cyber criminals were possible culprits.

The two companies said they needed to study the code more and asked for others to help with the analysis. Hackers do reuse code from other operations, so even copied lines fall well short of proof.

U.S. and European security officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity that it was still too early to say who might be behind the attacks, but they did not rule out North Korea as a suspect.

The Lazarus hackers, acting for impoverished North Korea, have been more brazen in pursuit of financial gain than others, and have been blamed for the theft of $81 million from a Bangladesh bank. The North Korean mission to the United Nations was not immediately available for comment.

Regardless of the source of the attack, investors piled into cyber security stocks on Monday, betting that governments and corporations will spend more to upgrade their defenses.

SMALL PAYOUT

The perpetrators had raised less than $70,000 from users looking to regain access to their computers, according to Trump homeland security adviser Tom Bossert.

“We are not aware if payments have led to any data recovery,” Bossert said, adding that no federal government systems had been affected.

Some private sector cyber security experts said they were not sure if the motive of the attack was primarily to make money, noting that most large ransomware and other types of cyber extortion campaigns pull in millions of dollars of revenue.

I believe that this was spread for the purpose of causing as much damage as possible, said Matthew Hickey, co-founder of British cyber consulting firm Hacker House.

The countries most affected by WannaCry to date are Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine and India, according to Czech security firm Avast.

The number of infections has fallen dramatically since Friday s peak when more than 9,000 computers were being hit per hour. Earlier on Monday, Chinese traffic police and schools reported they had been targeted as the attack rolled into Asia for the new work week, but no there were no major disruptions.

Authorities in Europe and the United States turned their attention to preventing hackers from spreading new versions of the virus.

Shares in firms that provide cyber security services rose sharply, led by Israel’s Cyren Ltd (CYRN.O) and U.S. firm FireEye Inc (FEYE.O).

Cisco Systems (CSCO.O) closed up 2.3 percent, making it the second-biggest gainer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, as investors focused more on opportunities the attack presented rather than the risk it posed to corporations.

Morgan Stanley, in upgrading the stock, said Cisco should benefit from network spending driven by security needs.

POLITICAL TOPIC

Beyond the immediate need to shore up computer defenses, the attack has turned cyber security into a political topic in Europe and the United States, including discussion of the role national governments play.

In a blog post on Sunday, Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) President Brad Smith confirmed what researchers already widely concluded: the attack made use of a hacking tool built by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) that had leaked online in April.

He poured fuel on a long-running debate over how government intelligence services should balance their desire to keep software flaws secret – in order to conduct espionage and cyber warfare – against sharing those flaws with technology companies to better secure the internet.

On Monday, Bossert sought to distance the NSA from any blame.

“This was not a tool developed by the NSA to hold ransom data. This was a tool developed by culpable parties, potentially criminals or foreign nation-states, that were put together in such a way as to deliver phishing emails, put it into embedded documents, and cause infection, encryption and locking,” Bossert said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, noting the technology’s link to the U.S. spy service, said it should be “discussed immediately on a serious political level.”

“Once they’re let out of the lamp, genies of this kind, especially those created by intelligence services, can later do damage to their authors and creators,” he said.

In Britain, where the virus first raised alarm when it caused hospitals to divert patients on Friday, it gained traction as a political issue just weeks before a general election. The opposition Labour Party accused the Conservative government of leaving the National Health Service (NHS) vulnerable.

RANSOM VIA BITCOIN

Some victims were ignoring official advice and paying the $300 ransom demanded by the cyber criminals to unlock their computers, which was due to double to $600 on Monday for computers hit by Friday’s first wave.

So far only a few victims of the attack appeared to have paid, based on publicly available bitcoin accounts on the web, where victims have been instructed to pay.

The initial ransom demand was $300 per machine. Three days after becoming infected the demand doubles. Starting on Monday, the first victims began facing demands of $600 to unlock their machines.

This coming Friday, victims face being locked out of their computers permanently if they fail to pay the $600 ransom, said Tom Robinson, co-founder of Elliptic, a London-based private security company that investigates ransomware attacks.

As of 1400 GMT, the total value of funds paid into anonymous bitcoin wallets the hackers are using stood at just $55,169, from 209 payments, according to calculations made by Reuters using publicly available data.

Brian Lord, managing director of cyber and technology at cyber security firm PGI, said victims had told him “the customer service provided by the criminals is second-to-none,” with helpful advice on how to pay: “One customer said they actually forgot they were being robbed.”

Companies and governments spent the weekend upgrading software to limit the spread of the virus. Monday was the first big test for Asia, where offices had already mostly been closed for the weekend before the attack first arrived.

Renault-Nissan (RENA.PA) (7201.T) said output had returned to normal at nearly all its plants. PSA Group (PEUP.PA), Fiat Chrysler (FCHA.MI), Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), Daimler (DAIGn.DE), Toyota (7203.T) and Honda (7267.T) said their plants were unaffected.

British media were hailing as a hero a 22-year-old computer security whiz who appeared to have helped stop the attack from spreading by discovering a “kill switch” – an internet address which halted the virus when activated.

Individual European countries and the United States saw infections at a rate of only 10 percent to 20 percent of the most affected countries, according to the researcher who stumbled on the kill switch.

The virus hit computers running older versions of Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) software that had not been recently updated. Microsoft released patches last month and on Friday to fix a vulnerability that allowed the worm to spread across networks. The company’s shares were down about 1 percent on Monday, in a slightly higher broad market.

Infected computers appear to be largely out-of-date devices. Some were machines involved in manufacturing or hospital functions, difficult to patch without disrupting operations.

For a graphic on how the cyber attack spread, see: tmsnrt.rs/2qIUckv[2]

(Additional reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, Jim Finkle, Cate Cadell, Jemima Kelly, Noel Randewich, Eric Auchard, Joseph Menn, Michelle Nichols and Tim Ahmann; Writing by Peter Graff and Nick Zieminski; Editing by Peter Millership and Bill Rigby)

Next In Cyber Risk

Researchers See Possible North Korea Link To Global Cyber Attack

European, Asian companies short on cyber insurance before ransomware attack

LONDON/NEW YORK Many companies outside the United States may not have cover for a recent computer-system attack, leaving them potentially with millions of dollars of losses because there has been relatively little take-up of cyber insurance, insurers say.

Researchers See Possible North Korea Link To Global Cyber Attack

For some ransomware victims, hard lessons

SINGAPORE/HANOI The WannaCry ransomware worm that hobbled big institutions and businesses at the weekend, including FedEx and Britain’s National Health Service, also indiscriminately caught many smaller victims across Asia, from hoteliers to Chinese students.

Researchers See Possible North Korea Link To Global Cyber Attack

Cyber worm attack propels health funding to center of British election campaign

LONDON The most disruptive cyber attack in the history of Britain’s National Health Service propelled a debate over state hospital funding to the center of the election campaign on Monday, though officials said there had been no second wave of infections.

References

  1. ^ Dustin Volz (www.reuters.com)
  2. ^ tmsnrt.rs/2qIUckv (tmsnrt.rs)

Global cyber attack slows; search on for hackers, motive

By Dustin Volz[1] | WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON The global WannaCry “ransomware” cyber attack slowed on Monday, with no major infections reported, as global law enforcement agencies shifted their attention to finding the hackers who unleashed it.

The attack infected 300,000 machines in 150 countries, said Tom Bossert, U.S. President Donald Trump’s homeland security adviser. That would make it one of the fastest-spreading online extortion campaigns in history.

Stocks of cyber security companies surged as investors bet on governments and corporations spending to upgrade their defenses.

The U.S. government is investigating whether the attack was launched by cyber criminals or a foreign nation state, Bossert said, noting that the perpetrators had raised less than $70,000 from users looking to regain access to their computers.

“We are not aware if payments have led to any data recovery,” Bossert said, adding that no federal government systems had been affected.

Private cyber security experts said they were not sure if the motive of the attack was primarily to make money, noting that most large ransomware attempts pull in millions of dollars of revenue.

I believe that this was spread for the purpose of causing as much damage as possible, said Matthew Hickey, co-founder of British cyber consulting firm Hacker House.

The countries most affected by WannaCry to date are Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine and India, according to Czech security firm Avast.

The number of infections has fallen dramatically since Friday s peak when more than 9,000 computers were being hit per hour. By afternoon on the U.S East Coast, new infections had fallen to the low hundreds of machines and continue to decline, Avast said.

Earlier on Monday, Chinese traffic police and schools reported they had been targeted as the attack rolled into Asia for the new work week, but no there were no major disruptions.

As the immediate threat receded, authorities and researchers in Europe and the United States turned their attention to preventing hackers from spreading new versions of the virus.

A new variant of the ransomware did surface on Monday, according to Check Point Software Technologies Ltd (CHKP.O), but the cyber security firm said it stopped it from damaging computers by activating a “kill switch” in the software.

Investors focused more on opportunities the attack presented rather than the risk it posed to corporations, pushing up shares in firms that provide cyber security services, such as Israel’s Cyren Ltd (CYRN.O) and U.S. firm FireEye Inc (FEYE.O).

Network company Cisco Systems (CSCO.O) closed up 2.3 percent, making it the second-biggest gainer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Wall Street firm Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock on the belief it would benefit from more network spending driven by security needs.

POLITICAL TOPIC

Beyond the immediate need to shore up computer defenses, the attack has turned cyber security into a political topic in Europe and the United States, including discussion of the role national governments play.

In a blog post on Sunday, Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) President Brad Smith confirmed what researchers already concluded: the attack made use of a hacking tool built by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) that had leaked online in April.

He poured fuel on a long-running debate over how government intelligence services should balance their desire to keep software flaws secret – in order to conduct espionage and cyber warfare – against sharing those flaws with technology companies to better secure the internet.

On Monday, Bossert sought to distance the NSA from any blame.

“This was not a tool developed by the NSA to hold ransom data. This was a tool developed by culpable parties, potentially criminals or foreign nation-states, that were put together in such a way as to deliver phishing emails, put it into embedded documents, and cause infection, encryption and locking,” Bossert said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, noting the technology’s link to the U.S. spy service, said it should be “discussed immediately on a serious political level.”

“Once they’re let out of the lamp, genies of this kind, especially those created by intelligence services, can later do damage to their authors and creators,” he said.

In Britain, where the virus first raised alarm when it caused hospitals to divert patients on Friday, it gained traction as a political issue just weeks before a general election. The opposition Labour Party accused the Conservative government of leaving the National Health Service (NHS) vulnerable.

“The government’s response has been chaotic,” Labour’s health spokesman Jon Ashworth said. “If you’re not going to allow the NHS to invest in upgrading its IT, then you are going to leave hospitals wide open to this sort of attack.”

Britain’s NHS is the world’s fifth-largest employer. The government says that under a previous Labour administration the trusts that run local hospitals were given responsibility to manage their own computer systems.

Asked if the government had ignored warnings over the NHS being at risk from cyber attack, Prime Minister Theresa May told Sky News: “No. It was clear (that) warnings were given to hospital trusts.”

British health minister Jeremy Hunt said it was “encouraging” that a predicted second spike of attacks had not occurred, but the ransomware was a warning to public and private organizations.

RANSOM VIA BITCOIN

Some victims were ignoring official advice and paying the $300 ransom demanded by the cyber criminals to unlock their computers, which was due to double to $600 on Monday for computers hit by Friday’s first wave.

So far only a few victims of the attack appeared to have paid, based on publicly available bitcoin accounts on the web, where victims have been instructed to pay.

The initial ransom demand was $300 per machine. Three days after becoming infected the demand doubles. Starting on Monday, the first victims began facing demands of $600 to unlock their machines.

This coming Friday, victims face being locked out of their computers permanently if they fail to pay the $600 ransom, said Tom Robinson, co-founder of Elliptic, a London-based private security company that investigates ransomware attacks.

As of 1400 GMT, the total value of funds paid into anonymous bitcoin wallets the hackers are using stood at just $55,169, from 209 payments, according to calculations made by Reuters using publicly available data.

Brian Lord, managing director of cyber and technology at cyber security firm PGI, said victims had told him “the customer service provided by the criminals is second-to-none,” with helpful advice on how to pay: “One customer said they actually forgot they were being robbed.”

Companies and governments spent the weekend upgrading software to limit the spread of the virus. Monday was the first big test for Asia, where offices had already mostly been closed for the weekend before the attack first arrived.

Renault-Nissan (RENA.PA) (7201.T) said output had returned to normal at nearly all its plants. PSA Group (PEUP.PA), Fiat Chrysler (FCHA.MI), Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), Daimler (DAIGn.DE), Toyota (7203.T) and Honda (7267.T) said their plants were unaffected.

British media were hailing as a hero a 22-year-old computer security whiz who appeared to have helped stop the attack from spreading by discovering a “kill switch” – an internet address which halted the virus when activated.

Individual European countries and the United States saw infections at a rate of only 10 percent to 20 percent of the most affected countries, according to the researcher who stumbled on the kill switch.

The virus hit computers running older versions of Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) software that had not been recently updated. Microsoft released patches last month and on Friday to fix a vulnerability that allowed the worm to spread across networks. The company’s shares were down about 1 percent on Monday, in a slightly higher broad market.

Infected computers appear to be largely out-of-date devices. Some were machines involved in manufacturing or hospital functions, difficult to patch without disrupting operations.

For a graphic on how the cyber attack spread, see: tmsnrt.rs/2qIUckv[2]

(Additional reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, Jim Finkle, Cate Cadell, Jemima Kelly, Noel Randewich, Eric Auchard and Tim Ahmann; Writing by Peter Graff and Nick Zieminski; Editing by Peter Millership and Bill Rigby)

Next In Cyber Risk

Global Cyber Attack Slows; Search On For Hackers, Motive

European, Asian companies short on cyber insurance before ransomware attack

LONDON/NEW YORK Many companies outside the United States may not have cover for a recent computer-system attack, leaving them potentially with millions of dollars of losses because there has been relatively little take-up of cyber insurance, insurers say.

Global Cyber Attack Slows; Search On For Hackers, Motive

For some ransomware victims, hard lessons

SINGAPORE/HANOI The WannaCry ransomware worm that hobbled big institutions and businesses at the weekend, including FedEx and Britain’s National Health Service, also indiscriminately caught many smaller victims across Asia, from hoteliers to Chinese students.

Global Cyber Attack Slows; Search On For Hackers, Motive

Ransomware hits small number of U.S. critical infrastructure operators: official

WASHINGTON A small number of U.S. critical infrastructure operators have been affected by the global ransomware worm, but there has been no significant disruption in their work, a Department of Homeland Security official told Reuters on Monday.

References

  1. ^ Dustin Volz (www.reuters.com)
  2. ^ tmsnrt.rs/2qIUckv (tmsnrt.rs)

Cyber attack’s spread slows; security stocks gain

By Guy Faulconbridge and Dustin Volz[1][2] | LONDON/WASHINGTON

LONDON/WASHINGTON The global WannaCry “ransomware” cyber attack spread more slowly on Monday with no major infections reported, as attention shifted to investment and government policy implications of lax cyber security.

There were 213,000 infected machines in 112 countries as of 1000 GMT on Monday, according to Czech security firm Avast, making it one of the largest coordinated attacks to hit computers across the world.

The countries most affected by WannaCry were the same as Friday: Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine and India, Avast’s data showed.

The number of infections has fallen dramatically since Friday s peak when more than 9,000 computers were being hit per hour. By afternoon on the U.S East Coast, new infections had fallen to the low hundreds of machines and continue to decline, Avast said.

Earlier on Monday, Chinese traffic police and schools reported they had been targeted as the attack rolled into Asia for the new work week, but no there were no major disruptions.

Authorities in Europe and the United States turned their attention to preventing hackers from spreading new versions of the virus.

Tom Bossert, U.S. President Donald Trump’s homeland security adviser, said people “should be thinking about this as an attack that for right now we have under control, but as an attack that represents an extremely serious threat,” speaking on ABC’s “Good Morning America” show.

Shares in firms that provide cyber security services jumped on the prospect of companies and governments spending more money on defenses, led by Israel’s Cyren Ltd (CYRN.O) and U.S. firm FireEye Inc (FEYE.O)..

Cisco Systems (CSCO.O) rose 2.8 percent, making it the leading gainer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which was up more than 100 points in afternoon trading, as investors focused more on opportunities the attack presented rather than the risk it posed to corporations.

The perpetrators of the attack are still not known. Bossert said that while U.S. officials had not ruled out the possibility that it was a “state action,” he said it appeared to be criminal, given the ransom requests.

Some victims were ignoring official advice and paying the $300 ransom demanded by the cyber criminals to unlock their computers, which was due to double to $600 on Monday for computers hit by Friday’s first wave.

So far only a few victims of the attack appeared to have paid, based on publicly available bitcoin accounts on the web, where victims have been instructed to pay.

The initial ransom demand was $300 per machine. Three days after becoming infected the demand doubles. Starting on Monday, the first victims began facing demands of $600 to unlock their machines.

This coming Friday, victims face being locked out of their computers permanently if they fail to pay the $600 ransom, said Tom Robinson, co-founder of Elliptic, a London-based private security company that investigates ransomware attacks.

As of 1400 GMT, the total value of funds paid into anonymous bitcoin wallets the hackers are using stood at just $55,169, from 209 payments, according to calculations made by Reuters using publicly available data.

Brian Lord, managing director of cyber and technology at cyber security firm PGI, said victims had told him “the customer service provided by the criminals is second-to-none,” with helpful advice on how to pay: “One customer said they actually forgot they were being robbed.”

Companies and governments spent the weekend upgrading software to limit the spread of the virus. Monday was the first big test for Asia, where offices had already mostly been closed for the weekend before the attack first arrived.

Renault-Nissan (RENA.PA) (7201.T) said output had returned to normal at nearly all its plants. PSA Group (PEUP.PA), Fiat Chrysler (FCHA.MI), Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), Daimler (DAIGn.DE), Toyota (7203.T) and Honda (7267.T) said their plants were unaffected.

British media were hailing as a hero a 22-year-old computer security whiz who appeared to have helped stop the attack from spreading by discovering a “kill switch” – an internet address which halted the virus when activated.

Individual European countries and the United States saw infections at a rate of only 10 percent to 20 percent of the most affected countries, according to the researcher who stumbled on the kill switch.

The virus hit computers running older versions of Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) software that had not been recently updated. Microsoft released patches last month and on Friday to fix a vulnerability that allowed the worm to spread across networks. The company’s shares were down about 1 percent on Monday, in a slightly higher broad market.

Infected computers appear to be largely out-of-date devices. Some have also been machines involved in manufacturing or hospital functions, difficult to patch without disrupting operations.

Graphic on cyber attack tmsnrt.rs/2qIUckv[3]

POLITICAL TOPIC

The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee is monitoring the attack and expects to receive a briefing in the coming days from the Trump administration, a panel aide said.

In a blog post on Sunday, Microsoft President Brad Smith confirmed what researchers had already widely concluded: the attack made use of a hacking tool built by the U.S. National Security Agency that had leaked online in April.

He poured fuel on a long-running debate over how government intelligence services should balance their desire to keep software flaws secret – in order to conduct espionage and cyber warfare – against sharing those flaws with technology companies to better secure the internet.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, noting the technology’s link to the U.S. spy service, said it should be “discussed immediately on a serious political level.”

“Once they’re let out of the lamp, genies of this kind, especially those created by intelligence services, can later do damage to their authors and creators,” he said.

In Britain, where the virus first raised global alarm when it caused hospitals to divert ambulances on Friday, it gained traction as a political issue just weeks before a general election. The opposition Labour Party accused the Conservative government of leaving the National Health Service (NHS) vulnerable.

“The government’s response has been chaotic,” the British Labour Party’s health spokesman Jon Ashworth said. “If you’re not going to allow the NHS to invest in upgrading its IT, then you are going to leave hospitals wide open to this sort of attack.”

Britain’s NHS is the world’s fifth-largest employer after the U.S. and Chinese militaries, Wal-Mart Stores and McDonald’s. The government says that under a previous Labour administration the trusts that run local hospitals were given responsibility to manage their own computer systems.

Asked if the government had ignored warnings over the NHS being at risk from cyber attack, Prime Minister Theresa May told Sky News: “No. It was clear (that) warnings were given to hospital trusts.”

British health minister Jeremy Hunt said on Monday it was “encouraging” that a predicted second spike of attacks had not occurred, but the ransomware was a warning to public and private organizations.

ASIA IMPACT

China appeared over the weekend to have been particularly vulnerable, raising worries about how well the world’s second-largest economy would cope. However, officials and security firms said the spread was starting to slow.

“The growth rate of infected institutions on Monday has slowed significantly compared to the previous two days,” said Chinese Internet security company Qihoo 360.

An official from Cybersecurity Administration China (CAC) told local media on Monday the ransomware had affected industry and government computer systems but the spread was slowing.

Energy giant PetroChina (601857.SS) said payment systems at some petrol stations were hit although it had restored most of the systems.

Elsewhere in Asia, Conglomerate Hitachi Ltd (6501.T) said the attack had affected its systems over the weekend, leaving them unable to receive and send emails or open attachments in some cases.

At Indonesia s biggest cancer hospital, Dharmais Hospital in Jakarta, attacks affected scores of computers. By late morning, some people were still manually filling out forms, but 70 percent of systems were online.

India’s government said it received only a few reports of attacks and urged those hit not to pay any ransom. No major Indian corporations reported disrupted operations.

(Additional reporting by Cate Cadell, Jemima Kelly, Eric Auchard and Tim Ahmann; Writing by Peter Graff and Nick Zieminski; Editing by Peter Millership and Bill Rigby)

Next In Cyber Risk

Cyber Attack's Spread Slows; Security Stocks Gain

European, Asian companies short on cyber insurance before ransomware attack

LONDON/NEW YORK Many companies outside the United States may not have cover for a recent computer-system attack, leaving them potentially with millions of dollars of losses because there has been relatively little take-up of cyber insurance, insurers say.

Cyber Attack's Spread Slows; Security Stocks Gain

Ransomware hits small number of U.S. critical infrastructure operators: official

WASHINGTON A small number of U.S. critical infrastructure operators have been affected by the global ransomware worm, but there has been no significant disruption in their work, a Department of Homeland Security official told Reuters on Monday.

Cyber Attack's Spread Slows; Security Stocks Gain

More disruptions feared from cyber attack; Microsoft slams government secrecy

WASHINGTON/FRANKFURT Officials across the globe scrambled over the weekend to catch the culprits behind a massive ransomware worm that disrupted operations at car factories, hospitals, shops and schools, while Microsoft on Sunday pinned blame on the U.S. government for not disclosing more software vulnerabilities.

References

  1. ^ Guy Faulconbridge (www.reuters.com)
  2. ^ Dustin Volz (www.reuters.com)
  3. ^ tmsnrt.rs/2qIUckv (tmsnrt.rs)
1 2 3 11