Ransomware attacks keep taking the world by surprise, as the latest widespread ransomware WannaCrypt0r (also known as WannaCrypt, WannaCry, or WCry) shows in a rather sad scenario, that affected tens of thousands of users, companies, and even hospitals, in over 90 countries. Despite us, as security experts, advocating for extra caution on the topic it is easier to pretend things like that will happen only to others and go on as before.
Unpleasant as they are massive ransomware attacks have been expected to increase in both frequency and intensity for some time now. We are actually witnessing an entire cyber crime branch being built on this type of attacks, as they allow for millions of dollars to be raised from the victims with relative ease.
What is ransomware?
There are two types of ransomware: crypto-ransomware that encrypts files (rendering them unreadable), and screen-locking ransomware that locks the home screen. In both cases, the authors of malicious software demand a ransom from its victims to access the files and device.
What is so special about WannaCrypt0r?
In this case, it’s the ransomware’s way of spreading, which is more like a worm than a “normal” ransomware. That means that once it is on your PC it will try and spread to another one on its own and by means of exploiting vulnerabilities that have either not been detected or patched yet. In the case of WannaCrypt0r, it’s a vulnerability called EternalBlue – one of the exploits recently released by Shadow Brokers in the leaked NSA tools archive. Ironically there is already a patch available by Microsoft for all affected Windows systems since March which shows how seldom updates are actually conducted by individual users and bigger companies alike. Following the attack Microsoft has even released patches for Windows XP, Windows Server 2008 and most other operating systems they no longer support but that are still widely used.
“I cannot stress how utterly important it is to have your system up to date,” says Oscar Anduiza, malware analyst at Avira. “In a perfect world where everyone had installed this patch, an attack like this would have been unthinkable”. So if you haven’t done so people, get to it and update your OS. By the way, with our Software Updater Pro you would have had the patch installed on your system the day it was released without any hassle and with just one click – so there is really no excuse to leave this vulnerability wide open for any ransomware to exploit.
How does WannaCrypt0r work?
After finding a way on the PC via the above exploit it will try and get full permission to execute and encrypt the system. The command it’s using is “icacls . /grant Everyone:F /T /C /“. It even goes so far and kills the mail storage and whatever other databases the user has on his or her PC in order to get to those as well.
Once done, it searcher for files with the extensions “.der, .pfx, .key, .crt, .csr, .pem, .odt, .ott, .sxw, .stw, .uot, .max, .ods, .ots, .sxc, .stc, .dif, .slk, .odp, .otp, .sxd, .std, .uop, .odg, .otg, .sxm, .mml, .lay, .lay6, .asc, .sqlite3, .sqlitedb, .sql, .accdb, .mdb, .dbf, .odb, .frm, .myd, .myi, .ibd, .mdf, .ldf, .sln, .suo, .cpp, .pas, .asm, .cmd, .bat, .vbs, .dip, .dch, .sch, .brd, .jsp, .php, .asp, .java, .jar, .class, .wav, .swf, .fla, .wmv, .mpg, .vob, .mpeg, .asf, .avi, .mov, .mkv, .flv, .wma, .mid, .djvu, .svg, .psd, .nef, .tiff, .tif, .cgm, .raw, .gif, .png, .bmp, .jpg, .jpeg, .vcd, .iso, .backup, .zip, .rar, .tgz, .tar, .bak, .tbk, .PAQ, .ARC, .aes, .gpg, .vmx, .vmdk, .vdi, .sldm, .sldx, .sti, .sxi, .hwp, .snt, .onetoc2, .dwg, .pdf, .wks, .rtf, .csv, .txt, .vsdx, .vsd, .edb, .eml, .msg, .ost, .pst, .potm, .potx, .ppam, .ppsx, .ppsm, .pps, .pot, .pptm, .pptx, .ppt, .xltm, .xltx, .xlc, .xlm, .xlt, .xlw, .xlsb, .xlsm, .xlsx, .xls, .dotx, .dotm, .dot, .docm, .docb, .docx, .doc“, etc. and stores a @Please_Read_Me@.txt ransom note and a copy of the @WanaDecryptor@.exe decryptor in every folder where a file was encrypted.