Starting Early Friday May 12, 2017, a massive ransomware campaign hit computer systems of hundreds of private companies and public organizations across the globe. The Ransomware in question has been identified as a variant of ransomware known as WannaCry (also known as 'Wana Decrypt0r,' 'WannaCryptor' or 'WCRY'). What's interesting about this ransomware is that WannaCry attackers are leveraging a Windows exploit harvested from the NSA called EternalBlue, which was dumped by the Shadow Brokers hacking group over a month ago. Microsoft released a patch for the vulnerability in March (MS17-010), but many users and organizations who did not patch their systems are open to attacks. How to Protect Yourself from WannaCry? First of all, if you haven't patched your Windows machines and servers against EternalBlue exploit (MS17-010), do it right now. To safeguard against such ransomware infection, you should always be suspicious of uninvited documents sent an email and should never click on links inside those documents unless verifying the source.

Like other nasty ransomware variants, WannaCry also blocks access to a computer or its files and demands money to unlock it. Once infected with the WannaCry ransomware, victims are asked to pay up to $300 in order to remove the infection from their PCs; otherwise, their PCs render unusable, and their files remain locked. Once a single computer in your organization is hit by the WannaCry ransomware, the worm looks for other vulnerable computers and infects them as well. The exploit has the capability to penetrate into machines running unpatched version of Windows XP through 2008 R2 by exploiting flaws in Microsoft Windows SMB Server. This is why WannaCry campaign is spreading at an astonishing pace.

In just a few hours, the ransomware targeted over 45,000 computers in 74 countries, including United States, Russia, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Philippines and Vietnam, and that the number was still growing, according to Kaspersky Labs. According to a report, the ransomware attack has shut down work at 16 hospitals across the UK after doctors got blocked from accessing patient files. Another report says, 85% of computers at the Spanish telecom firm, Telefonica, has been infected with this malware. Another independent security researcher, MalwareTech, reported that a large number of U.S. organizations (at least 1,600) have been hit by WannaCry, compared to 11,200 in Russia and 6,500 in China. "Power firmI Iberdrola and utility provider Gas Natural were also reported to have suffered from the outbreak." according to the BBC.