Date
23 May 2017
Following a ransomware attack, authorities around the world have stepped up vigilance against potential new cyber-security threats. Credit: Reuters
Following a ransomware attack, authorities around the world have stepped up vigilance against potential new cyber-security threats. Credit: Reuters

Hacking group threatens to sell code, adding to cyber worries

A group that leaked US hacking tools used to launch the global WannaCry “ransomware” attack warned it will release more malicious code, sparking fears of a potential new wave of cyber threats.

WannaCry attack, which hit more than 300,000 computers worldwide since Friday, eased for second day on Tuesday, but the identity and motive of its creators remain unknown, Reuters reports.

The attack includes elements that belong to the US National Security Agency and were leaked online last month.

Shadow Brokers, the group that has taken credit for that leak, threatened on Tuesday to release more recent code to enable hackers to break into the world’s most widely used computers, software and phones.

A blog post written by the group promised to release tools every month from June to anyone willing to pay for access to some of the tech world’s biggest commercial secrets.

It also threatened to dump data from banks using the SWIFT international money transfer network and from Russian, Chinese, Iranian or North Korean nuclear and missile programs, Reuters reported.

The spread of WannaCry — which encrypts a user’s data and demands a “ransom” be paid electronically to free it up again — slowed to a trickle on Tuesday, with few, isolated examples being reported.

There were no new, major incidents in the United States. Fewer than 10 American organizations have reported attacks to the Department of Homeland Security since Friday, a US official told reporters on Tuesday.

The attack has caused most damage in Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine and India, according to Czech security firm Avast.

The Department of Homeland Security began an “aggressive awareness campaign” to alert the tech industry to the importance of installing the patch that Microsoft issued in March that protected users from the vulnerability exploited by the attack, a US official working on the attack told Reuters.

Microsoft said on Tuesday it was aware of Shadow Brokers’ most recent claim and that its security teams monitor potential threats in order to “help us prioritize and take appropriate action.”

Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said earlier this week the WannaCry attack used elements stolen from the NSA.

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RC

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