WannaCry, that cyberattack that captured tens of thousands of computers as well as the world’s attention last month, was certainly bad. Imagine one day discovering your work material or family photos are locked away by a hacker who wants you to transfer some Bitcoin in his direction to set it free.
Now imagine something similar, but with a harder edge. Its creators don’t seem that worried about getting a ransom — though you can pay one if you like. It makes your computer even harder to break into and there’s no way for a cybersecurity wizard to stop its spread.
That essentially describes the ransomware attack that started in Ukraine on Tuesday and spread throughout Europe and into the United States. Like WannaCry, it relied on hacking tools that were stolen from the National Security Agency and posted on the internet.
This attack however seemed to have a more specific purpose: Targeting computers in Ukraine ahead of a national holiday celebrating the creation of the country’s first Constitution after breaking away from the Soviet Union.
Was it intended as a political message or an act of sabotage? Maybe a little of both? Regardless, it serves as further evidence that an array of the agency’s hacking tools are out there for anyone to use, even people without sophisticated programming skills.