Who are the WannaCry hackers?

A global cyberattack was recently launched by a hacker group through the WannaCry ransomware. 

Pixabay/GeraltImage used as illustration only.

A ransomware is a type of cyberattack in which hackers take control of a computer system and disable users from getting access to their files unless they pay a "ransom." Hackers trick users into installing the malware to their computers through links found in phishing websites and emails.

Once the malware is installed, the user will be left with only two files: the Wanna Decryptor, which is responsible for locking out all the data on a user's computer system, and the instructions on how to pay up. According to a report on CNN Money, victims were instructed to pay $3,000 in bitcoin, which is the online cryptocurrency, within three days in order to get their data back. If the victim failed to pay within the deadline, the ransom was said to be increased.

According to Malware Hunter Team on Twitter, in less than three hours after it was launched, it already victimized organizations and individuals from 11 countries, such as Taiwan, Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, Spain, Germany, Ukraine, and the Philippines. 

However, it was able to spread like wildfire. As per the report on The Telegraph, more than 200,000 organizations in 150 countries have already been affected by the said attack since Friday.

The WannaCry ransomware, also known as "wcry," has easily become one of the worst digital attacks to hit the world wide web in years, even affecting hospitals and transportation all around the world. However, according to Wired, it does not look like the work of hacker geniuses, based on the many flaws of their program.

"From a ransom perspective, it's a catastrophic failure," said Craig Williams, a cybersecurity researcher, as reported on Wired. "High damage, very high publicity, very high law-enforcement visibility, and it has probably the lowest profit margin we've seen from any moderate or even small ransomware campaign."

A number of analysts think that it is impossible for the hackers to know who has paid the ransom and who has not. Also, a young IT expert was reported to have accidentally triggered a web-based "kill switch" that stopped the spread of the ransomware.

Whether the attack was all about the money or was motivated by a political agenda, it may not be the last digital disaster the world is going to see. 

Patrick Coughlin, the chief operations officer of cybersecurity company TruSTAR, said on a blog: "No matter what you think about the motives behind this particular attack – there will be more to come, and the next wave will learn from the impact we've seen (and not seen) here."