A massive cyber-attack has hit more than a dozen hospitals across the United Kingdom, as well as a further 75 000 computers around the world.
According to The Verge, the victims span 99 countries, and include gas and water utilities in Spain. The malware used is known as the Wanna Decryptor, or WannaCry, exploiting an NSA-developed exploit called ‘EternalBlue’.
Surprisingly, however, the answer to ending the spread of the attack has turned out to be fairly simple. Simply registering the domain “iuqerfsodp9ifjaposdfjhgosurijfaewrwergwea.com” seems to have done the trick.
According to The Guardian, a 22-year-old blogger and researcher going by the name of ‘MalwareTech’ discovered the “kill switch” hidden in the malware’s code.
Upon infecting a PC, the malware reportedly runs a check to see whether the domain is occupied. If not, it proceeds with holding the device’s data ransom.
The Verge notes that this kill switch has not affected all the infections – some seem to run differently. Nevertheless, it may have saved many lives, considering the involvement of hospital records.
Microsoft PCs will remain vulnerable until protected by security updates, however, and so users should remain cautious.