On Friday, 12 May, another cyberattack was unleashed on computer systems across the globe. This time, the culprit was a ransomware infection named WannaCry (also WannaCrypt or Wcry).
The appropriately-named WannaCry ransomware targeted access to database, multimedia, and archive files as well as MS Office documents.
To unlock infected files, the ransomware demanded victims cough up US$300 in Bitcoins within 7 days or else the files would be deleted.
European businesses and organisations were first to report their systems being locked by the ransomware before the infection spread worldwide over the weekend. The British National Health Service fell victim to the attack forcing a number of hospitals in England and Scotland to cancel procedures, while x-rays, test results and patient records became unavailable.
Spanish telco giant Telefonica and US delivery service FedEx also fell victim to the attack.
The attacks didn’t appear to target any particular country or industry with healthcare, manufacturing, energy, technology, food and beverage, education, media and government departments all targeted.
And, as ABC reported, WannaCry even turned up in some rather obscure places including on a screen in an Ontario building lobby, on a Thai billboard and on parking meters in the UK and the Netherlands.
Australia, however, appears to have gotten off fairly lightly this time. Early reports on the following Monday morning suggested just one Aussie business had been affected.
But by Tuesday, Cyber Security Minister Dan Tehan confirmed that 12 Australian small businesses had fallen victim to the WannaCry ransomware.
In a press release issued Tuesday morning, the Minister stated that:
“Small business owners should be pro-active about their cyber security in the wake of this ransomware campaign affecting computers around the world.”
Speaking to ABC in the wake of the attack, Minister Tehan said the impact of ransomware on the Australian economy each year is conservatively estimated at around $1 billion.