The Wanna Cry and North Korea Cyber Crimes

 

 

In May 12, 2017 the “Wanna Cry” virus caused worldwide havoc. A total 74 countries had reported about 45,000 attacks had taken place on hospitals, government offices and major companies. One day later 99 countries were involved in the attack and North Korea was a suspect from the beginning. There is evidence that the ransomware called Wanna Cry and North Korea are connected.

The Wanna Cry virus attacks older Microsoft Windows programs. The question is, why did it spread so quickly? Partly, because people didn’t install the security updates for their software programs.

Microsoft issued customers critical updates for older software two months before the attack. However, in  countries like Russia, many people believed that these security updates were optional, and not really necessary. They were also fearful it might be pirated software, and would shut them down if they tried to install it.

Unfortunately, that was a huge mistake. Computers that were updated were protected from the virus .Those computer systems that did not update, were attacked.

This enabled the Wanna Cry attack to spread unchecked through unprotected computer systems.The final estimate was that 150 countries and 230,000 computers were involved.

Thankfully a British researcher named Marcus Hutchins, stumbled upon a domain name the virus was searching for embedded in the code. Marcus created a website with that domain and caused the “Wanna Cry” virus to begin shutting down.

He inadvertently activated a “kill switch” for the virus. He became an overnight hero!

Ironically, Marcus Hutchins is currently facing charges on developing the 2014 Kronos banking Trojan and a piece of malware called the UPAS Kit. Marcus denies all charges, and the case is ongoing.

Where is the “Wanna Cry” Virus Now?

It’s been over a year since the Wanna cry virus was stopped. With all the computers updated and protected, the “Wanna Cry virus was thought to be history.

However, in Q3 2018 there were still 74,621 user attacks reported from variants of the “Wanna Cry” virus.That was about one third of all ransomware attacks in 2018.

Fortunately, the attacks are much more limited and involved smaller groups of computers.

Any major damage had been avoided because of the intensive technology updates that stop the virus dead in it’s tracks.

The Wanna Cry Virus is Still Active

The number of reported attempts to infect computers shows the cybercriminals are still using the Wanna Cry virus. They have learned to adapt the original code and still attack computers.

Kasparsky reports:

“Our statistics come from computers protected by our technologies, so no real damage occurred; our products have instantly repelled WannaCry from the start. However, the number of attempts to infect computers with this Trojan in 2018 suggests that someone out there is still actively using WannaCry. This would hardly be the case if there was nothing in it for cybercriminals — fools they are not. It means that they are still able to infect computers.”

Even if the hackers did manage to infect a computer system, the virus would not spread like it did in 2017. The updates to the Microsoft software would have prevented it from a repeat of 2017.

But it is not cause for celebration at all. The ransomware attacks might be lower for 2018, but overall attacks are on the rise and continue to grow every month. That is telling us the people who want to do us harm, are trying harder to succeed.

Originally, the Wanna Cry attack was reported in my article Recent Internet Scams 

Wanna Cry and North Korea

The Wanna Cry virus code was linked with North Korea and their worldwide hacking activities also pointed toward the North Korean “Lazarus Group”. However, at the time no connection was proven.

In December 2017, the United State Government formally announced that evidence indicated North Korea was behind the Wanna Cry attack. The evidence also indicated, that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had given the order to launch the malware attack.

Canada, New Zealand and Japan as well as the United Kingdom all reached the same conclusion. The Wanna Cry and North Korea are connected. North Korea denies the allegations.

 Protect Your Devices From Attacks

A few simple steps can greatly help you avoid being attacked, and having your data locked up. Good maintenance of your equipment is a must! And always practice good Personal Fraud Protection

  • Keep everything updated with the latest updates from security software
  • Use the latest technologies -Karspersky uses rollback anti-ransomware technology
  • Always make at least two backups -one hard copy, one cloud copy

 

Use External Back Up Devices

I have found using a back up hard drive makes this process much easier. A product called My Passport manufactured by Western Digital Corporation is very easy to use. It is a plug and play device, that you plug into your devices USB port and follow a few simple steps and you are done.

MY PASSPORT – EXTERNAL HARDDRIVE

My Passport works in the background backing up all your data. It is small, about the size of a deck of cards, and powerful enough to store 2 TB of data. Because of it’s small size, it doesn’t take up much room. Bigger sizes are available as well.

However, the safest way to back up your computer, is to do it without keeping the hard drive connected all the time.

That way, if you are attacked, your hard drive is disconnected and your data is safe. Normally, the attack takes control of the computer, and locks you out. You can unplug the external hard drive and have a copy of your records.

It is also recommended to store an additional copy in the cloud, just in case! I am told that it is unlikely the malware is stored on the external hard drive. However, I am not a computer geek, so that’s why I save my data, and unplug it.

The importance of updating you data is key to protection yourself. You will not need to pay ransom if you have a back up copy!

I had a complete hard drive failure on my PC and this was a lifesaver! It had my data saved and intact, making data transfer onto a new hard drive simple.

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Some of The Companies Hit in 2018

When the Wanna Cry outbreak infected computers in 150 countries in 2017, some of the companies affected were BoeingHonda and FedEx. In the UK the National Health Service was also experiencing shutdowns because of the attack. Then, in 2018 an attack surfaced at Boeing again.

Boeing Had Dozens of Computers Hit

In March of 2018, Boeing had an attack that affected a plant in North Charleston. They reported it was a limited intrusion that affected a small number of devices in one facility.

The production equipment apparently had an older version of windows embedded inside certain systems. These systems were ones that did not get updated in 2017. However, because most of the other systems had already been updated, it did not spread.

TSMC Has 10,000 Machines Affected

In August 2018 A chip manufacturer called Tiawan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company –TSMC, experienced a shutdown of some of it’s fabrication plant’s.

The cause was an attack of a variant of the WannaCry virus. The company reported a vender had infected software and it was installed without a virus scan. The virus quickly spread and infected several facilities. Some 10,000 machines were involved.

They have since changed their procedures to prevent a repeat from happening again. But the point is, that these malware programs are still active and are being manipulated and changed all the time. The Wanna Cry is not dead!

Alleged Perpetrator of Wanna Cry Charged

In the meantime, the United States had evidence that uncovered the identity of the alleged perpetrator in the Wanna Cry attack. Park Jin Hyok.

On June 8,2018,the FBI issued a federal arrest warrant for Park Jin Hyok, charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit computer-related fraud (computer intrusion). 

Who Was Park Jin Hyok 

FBI wanted Picture of Park Jin Hyok
PARK JIN HYOK

The accused Park Jin Hyok is an alleged North Korean Spy.

He is suspected to be the hacker responsible for the Wanna Cry attack.

Park, a computer programmer, is also the prime suspect wanted for the cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The Sony attack occurred after the release of the Hollywood movie that mocked the North Korean leader,Kim Jon Un.

The attack was in retaliation for insulting the North Korean leader.

Park was involved with a group of hackers employed by the North Korean Government. The hacking group was referred to as the  “Lazarus Group”

U.S. officials are hoping that North Korea will make Park available for questioning.

The FBI Wanted Poster For Park Jin Hyok

Wanted Poster of Park Jin Hyok

The download link for this poster- Wanted Poster for Park Jin Hyok

North Korea Will Never Release Park Jin Hyok

Park Jin Hyok worked with Lab 110, a hacking group operated by the North Korean Government. The North Korean Lab 110 group is also recognized worldwide as the “Lazarus Group”.

The North Korean government employed park as a computer programmer. And this hacking talent is rare and valuable to government spy agencies. Likewise, it is unlikely he will ever be released to face any prosecution by the U.S.

More details are coming out about ongoing cyber attacks on businesses including some in South Korea. It is not clear who might be behind the latest attacks.

Your Best Defense – Keep All Updates Current

These Malware attacks are becoming more and more frequent. You must protect yourself as much as possible. I will repeat the simple best things you can do.

To keep your computer as safe as possible, keep all your updates for any software installed as soon as you receive them. This includes any security software as well as computer software updates.

Make 2 copies of your software, a hard copy such as a external hard drive and a cloud stored copy. This is the way you avoid the malware hijacking trap! You will have copies and will not need to pay ransom to get your files back.

My intent is to help you stay safe and offer you help for scams and frauds. Helping you avoid the pitfalls that are everywhere on the internet.

Be sure to use my Checklist if you do get involved in a scam.

Always be alert, and careful! Report any scams to the FBI ICU Unit

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Thank you for stopping by, and if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will get back to you. I always answer every comment!

Chas

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24 thoughts on “The Wanna Cry and North Korea Cyber Crimes”

  1. Cyber crimes and scams are progressively getting harder and harder to spot. After reading your article I will be sure to do all of my updates. I don’t “Wanna Cry” so I will protect my information by backing it up with an external drive like you suggested. Thank you for educating me about the Wanna Cry virus.

    • Hi Danny,

      We are going to be dealing with these bad guys forever! Updates are important, some people didn’t think so! The external Hard Drive can save your butt in a hard drive failure. Thank you for leaving a comment! Please come back!

      Chas

  2. It’s funny, isn’t it? Cyber attacks, threats to your computer security, malware – it’s all very tenuous and unreal until it happens to you!

    Your reporting of the Wanna Cry virus and its links to North Korea was fascinating. It’s amazing that a country that has difficulty feeding its people, encourages its soldiers to “live off the land” (steal citizens’ food) and has a totally warped view of the outside world can still muster the technical know-how to launch sophisticated cyber attacks.

    I guess it’s just a matter of priorities for the NK government.

    Your tips for protecting yourself are all excellent.

    I have my Windows computers set up to update automatically, so every Microsoft security update is installed the instant it’s released.

    And I’m fanatical about keeping both my data and the installation app for any purchased software on an external hard drive, disconnected from the computer when not actually being backed up.

    Plus all my passwords in a password protected Word doc, also stored on the external hard drive.

    Plus a memory stick with a Windows boot on it.

    I should probably do a Cloud backup as well, as you advise.

    Thanks, Chas, for this valuable and timely information.

  3. I had never heard of the I Wanna Cry virus prior to your post.  Thanks a lot for the history and detailed description.  I have long used external hard drives for all my files, not primarily to prevent hacking or viruses, but to avoid loss in the event of computer failure.  I have a decent virus scanner and update everything there and with Windows whenever I have the opportunity.  The cloud I don’t use.  I guess I don’t trust my data outside my own direct control.  How safe is the cloud for storage?  Can others access my files?  Can viruses be inserted into my files in the cloud?  Sorry, my technical knowledge is so weak.

    • Hi J52powell,

      The Wanna Cry Virus made news a few years back around the time that Snowden was defecting to Russia. But, you have the right idea! People don’t understand, that if their computer fails, (like a hard drive failure) you can’t use it. So, you can’t access the cloud until it is fixed. I don’t completely trust the cloud, but I do use dropbox and it was safe.It did not have all my files in dropbox, so the external hard drive had those saved. I would say it is possible, if the cloud site was hacked, they could expose your files.I can run a virus check on files, and I never had a problem with files I have stored in dropbox.Hope that helps

  4. Wow! I had no idea that viruses could be such a large-scale problem. I am guilty of not backing up my system. I bought an external hard drive a few years ago, just for backing up my photos but now I store then on the cloud. I never gave much thought to backing up other files but you have convinced me that is necessary.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge with those of us who are ignorant!

    • Hi Theresa,

      Yes, viruses will be around forever I am afraid. The bad guys keep using them to attack us! The cloud is great too, but not all files are backed up on the cloud. And if your computer fails, how are you going to get online to use the cloud? With a back-up hard drive, you can take the files to the computer shop and have them reloaded into a new hard drive if it failed. You are welcome. 

      Thanks for leaving a comment, and please come back!

      Chas

  5. Thanks for this article about The Wanna Cry virus. I honestly had no idea such virus exists in cyber attacks until now. Grateful the virus was stopped cause I would have fallen victim due to my ignorance about the virus. I find it insightful in reading your blogging, this is really helpful. Keep these articles coming so I can learn more. I will be back, it’s a very good site. 

    • Hi Ayodeji,

      You are welcome! i am glad you learned something about The Wanna Cry virus! You only would have been affected if you have not updated your computer.I will let you know as soon as I hear of any more virus attacks.Please come back! 

      Thanks for the comment.

      Chas

  6. I am obsessed with reading on everything to do with North Korea. I find it fascinating how in 2018 a country like that still gets a way with everything. 

    I read about this virus a while ago. Honestly it surprises me that North Korea can make such a virus, they’d have to be pretty tech savvy and up to date with the world which they’re not! 

    I work on a Mac, do you know if it effects macs too?

    • Hi Hollie,
      The country is using talented people inside the government to hack into computers around the world. I am sure they are stealing secrets as well as money, and that is where they are getting their tech knowledge.

      I am not certain about the mac computers, but what I hear is that apple uses a framework that protects them from some virus threats. Also, Microsoft programs are very widely used, and hackers target Microsoft. Part of the problem was they used stolen software from the U.S Cyber weapon “Eternal Blue”. It targeted Microsoft software and that allowed the “Wanna Cry” to spread so quickly. You can read more in my article Recent Internet Scams

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.
      Chas

  7. Cyber crimes remains a threat to the information on communication industry, However I think the war is being won as  researches are done and the awareness level is constantly increasing more precautions are taken to prevent such catastrophes.

    Thanks for sharing the preventive tips they could be a lifesaver anytime anyday.

    • Hi Zuchi,

      The war will never be won, it is getting worse. The bad guys keep coming up with ways to attack the computers in different ways. My article Recent Internet Scams highlights the facts. it becomes more and more important to keep our computers updated and secure. Using external hard drives helps as well. 

      Thanks for leaving a comment,

      Chas

  8. I remember when that virus was reported and creating havoc around the world and it’s nuts that it caused so much damage.  We’ve had personal computers for years now and there is no excuse for not protecting yourself.

    When I had a PC I was fully protected and had a passport drive with my backups.  I have MAC now and I don’t they were targeted.

    • Hi Stew,

      When that Wanna cry Was attacking computers, people didn’t update as much, now they do!

      They claim the reason for targeting Microsoft was because the Eternal Blue Exploit was published on the web. 

      The apple macs haven’t been targeted yet, some say they can’t be attacked, but you never know!

      Thanks for leaving a comment,Stew.

      Chas

  9. It is sound advice to make backups and to install a regularly updated antivirus program to protect your computer from hackers who have nothing better to do than jeopardize anybody’s computer.

    Your data is your asset to the future and should be protected so that you can continue to invest in it.  Without your data you have to start from scratch again and that may mean many decades of work which can be quite devastating to say the least.

    Taking the time to backup your work on a regular basis and updating your antivirus daily is the biggest security you could implement to ensure your data is safe.

    Thank you for reminding us of this very important task that will save us much frustration and protect out investments.

    Edu

    • Hi Edu,

      It sounds like you realize the value of maintaining a computer in top notch condition! It only takes a moment to lose all your hard work by even a hard drive failure and not the work of crooks! Back ups are a life saver for sure!

      I experienced a ransomeware event as well as a hard drive crash. I now use an External Hard Drive
      The hard drive failure was hard for sure, but having someone ask to be paid a ransome to unlock your files is the worst!! I never paid, and my computer was useless after that! I lost everything in the computer! Now, I back things up!

      I hope I can save someone the heartache of losing all their files!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Edu.

      Chas

  10. Thank you for your checklist. Luckily, I personally use Mac but I am sure soon those viruses will come to Mac since I got one earlier this year it was painful. What I usually do I am always on top of things. For work I use PC so before I go home I always do the updates, hate that since it takes hours. Always be on top of my finances as well, I make sure to check my back account regularly, set the alert on my phone and email and I also change the password regularly if need be. Stay safe out there.

    Happy Holidays

    • Hi Nuttanee,

      You are welcome for my checklist, I hope you never need it! It is likely just a matter of time until the apple network gets hit as well. They supposedly have a different set up somehow that is harder to crack. Microsoft blames the U.S. for exposing their software and causing the Wanna Cry attack. 

      It is good you always do the updates, and yes they are a pain! We have no choice! 

      We can never be to careful!

      Thanks for leaving your comment, Nuttanee.

      Happy Holidays to you as well,

      Chas

  11. Hey there, 

    I really enjoyed reading this article as it was interesting and informative. To be honest North Korean hackers are dangerous and they can hack into your system anytime. Therefore thanks a lot for warning us. I have Kaspersky Lab set up on my PC as its important to keep your conputer/laptop safe. This is a must read article!!! 

    Thank you for taking your time in writing this post. Well done! 

    • Hi AV2001,

      I am Glad you liked the article, and yes it is important to protect our computers. North Korea is a threat to everyone, because it is ransomeware! (read my article Recent Internet Scams) They will try to extort you for money! 

      I use Kaspersky as well,and so far they have done well.

      My hope is you found some usefulness in the article as well.

      Thank you for your comment.

      Chas

  12. Hello and thank you for this thorough and informative article. It was really a pleasant and good read. I remember like it was yesterday when the news about this virus boomed the world. People got really scared about the possible consequences. 

    Of course, I also was not aware that this virus is still active before reading this article. I thought it was long gone. Wanted to ask you something. Is there a specific antivirus you recommend for this kind of annoying threats? Or in general what antivirus you are using right now?

    Thank you.

    Strahinja

    • Hi Strahinja,

      Yes, it was a scary day when I heard the news about the Wanna Cry virus attacking computers worldwide! That prompted my article Recent Internet Scams
      But, hackers have a fondness with the code inside the Wanna Cry, and have been attempting variants to continue the attacks.

      I personally like the Kaspersky software, but I am not excited they are from Russia and we had problems with the past elections here in the U.S. involving Russia. Nonetheless, the antiviral software has been extremely effective and I have had no problems with them. I have also yet to find anyone to replace them in cost or effectiveness!

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, Strahinja!

      Chas

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