Technology

Malware attack crippled UK hospitals Friday -- until a 22-year-old discovered this fix

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One of the latest trends in viruses is a strain of malware, which has come to be known as ransomware. When your computer gets infected with ransomware, files are encrypted and become unusable, at which point, a demand for money is made in order for the computer's files to be returned to a usable state.

Such malware spread through computers with old versions of Windows in UK hospitals, FedEx and other businesses around the world on Friday, encrypting the files and rendering the affected computer unusable. WannaCry affected around 75,000 computers and demanded a $300 ransom to unlock each one.

On Monday’s “The Morning Blaze with Doc Thompson,” Doc Thompson and Kal Elsebai talked about the Microsoft patch for the issue and the malware “kill switch,” which was discovered by a 22-year-old.

The malware was able to spread because the businesses were either running an old version of Windows or still running Windows XP, which is no longer supported by Microsoft. The company is taking the “highly unusual” step of providing fixes for Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003.

Hospitals in the U.K. temporarily shut down their IT systems, canceling appointments and telling people not to visit unless it was a true emergency.

Experts working with investigators told The Guardian that the malware raised around $20,000 for the criminals behind the ransom scheme. The kill switch, which seems to have ended the attack, was discovered thanks to some investigation into the malware’s domain. An anonymous researcher who tweets under @MalwareTechBlog purchased the long nonsensical unregistered domain the malware made requests to, spending just $10.69 to make the domain live and stop the malware from spreading.

To see more from Doc, visit his channel on TheBlaze and listen live to “The Morning Blaze with Doc Thompson” weekdays 6–9 a.m. ET, only on TheBlaze Radio Network.

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