Ransomware WannaCry hit thousands of Windows computers starting from Friday, demanding USD 300 worth of bitcoins to recover files encrypted by the ware if not risk having all these files deleted. More than 200,000 users from over 150 countries were under attack.

The hardest hit areas in the world are Europe and China, according to a New York Times article on Friday. In China, educational and research institutions including universities were among over 100,000 computers from 30,000 institutions that were hacked. The group from these institutions that were hit the hardest were mainly students who were about to file their graduation thesis.

 WannaCry developer demands ransom from victims to recover files. Photo from Arageek.com
WannaCry developer demands ransom from victims to recover files. Photo from Arageek.com

Internet security company Qihoo 360 on Sunday released data on the current ransomware attack in China. The virus affected computers in eastern and central China, which are also the more populous parts of the country. As of late Saturday, 29,372 institutions in China were under attack. Among these sectors, educational and research institutions led the list with 4,316 organisations and accounted for 14.7 precent of the total number of attacks.

The virus forced Shandong University in eastern China to temporarily close part of its computer lab, and its information sharing center is currently down at the moment.

Weibo user Taoshu_L wrote, “I’m at the last stage of my graduation thesis, and there is this virus. Coincidentally, my computer files are encrypted. I’m really panicking.”

Universities are trying to stop these alarming circumstances as well. Internet user Youren Youyu posted this on Weibo: “The virus is really serious. The school reminded us early in the morning to make several copies of our graduation thesis. Okay… The first thing I did after opening my laptop is setting it in Airplane mode.”

Weibo users are concerned about the ransomware. Screenshot from Weibo
Weibo user Taoshu_L is concerned about the ransomware. Screenshot from Weibo

The developer of the ransomware used “Eternal Blue”, a hacking tool that targets Windows operating systems, according to New York Times. Eternal Blue was developed by the United States’ National Security Agency and was stolen last year. Unlike other computer viruses that lead you to click some button, this ransomware can hack into some Windows computers as long as their users open it and get it connected to the Internet.

So far, Microsoft has released a patch named MS 17-010 to fix vulnerabilities and safeguard Windows computers against the ransonware.

However, a new round of attacks might be on its way as a new working week starts. Ma Jinsong, the head of Tencent’s anti virus lab, said although current data has not confirmed that WannaCry 2.0 has already started attacking, the possibility of a new variant is very high. Especially as the workweek starts, the virus becomes highly risky for computer users, according to Chinese tech website Ifanr.com.

As some hackers bring trouble to the world, other programmers use their talent for a good course.

A female programmer “tyy” on Friday hacked into four bike-sharing apps on the 2017 GeekPwn hacking contest held in high seas. She hacked into a judge’s app and enabled a colleague from Shanghai to use the judge’s app to unlock a shared bike. When asked about Mobike and ofo apps, the two leading players in the sector, the programmer told Chinese media outlet Huxiu this, “Actually, I spotted Mobike’s vulnerability the earliest one morning, but the company patched it that same evening.”

(Top photo from Pixabay.com)

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Heather Wang
Heather is a contributor at ACT. She is passionate about literature, photography and technology. She graduated from Shanghai University of International Business and Economics with a Master's Degree.

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