Massive Cyber Attack Cripples UK Hospitals, Spreads Globally

A massive ransomware attack is currently under way. It was first widely reported having crippled the UK hospital system, but has since spread to numerous other systems throughout the world including FedEx in the US, the Russian Interior Ministry, and telecommunications firms in Spain and Russia.

The virus is known by names WannaCrypt, WannaCry, and a few other variants. It spreads using the ExternalBlue exploit in unpatched Windows machines older than version 10. The tools used to pull off this attack were likely from an NSA toolset leaked by the Shadow Brokers.

So far the strongest resource for technical information that we’ve found is this factsheet hosted on GitHub.

NHS Services at a Standstill in the UK

NHS services across England and Scotland have been hit by the ransomware attack, crippling multiple hospitals and doctor’s practices. The UK has universal healthcare — the National Health Service  — covering Doctors, Hospitals and generally everything medical related is free at the point of service. but today they have had to turn away patients and cancel consultations.

NHS is unable to access medical records of patients unless they pay £230 ($300) in bitcoin for infected machines. There is no evidence patient data has been compromised, NHS Digital has said. The BBC has stated that up to 39 NHS organisations and some GP practices have been affected.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was “working closely” with the NHS and that they will protect patient safety. We are aware that a number of NHS organisations have reported that they have suffered from a ransomware attack.

-Prime Minister Theresa May

Infected Systems Throughout the World

Computers in regions across the globe have been under attack today, including Telefonica (O2 in the UK), with at least 45,000 computers compromised in Russia, Ukraine, India, and Taiwan alone. There’s no indication of who is behind the attack yet.

The ransomware’s code takes advantage of an exploit called EternalBlue, made public in April by Shadow Brokers which was patched by Microsoft in March, It comes as a shock that an organisation the size of the NHS seem not to have kept their computers updated. This is perhaps just a taster of what is to come in the future as cyber crime and warfare become more and more commonplace.

[Ransomware screenshots via @UID_]

Prisoners Build DIY Computers and Hack Prison Network

The Internet is everywhere. The latest anecdotal evidence of this is a story of prison inmates that build their own computer and connected it to the internet. Back in 2015, prisoners at the Marion Correctional Institution in Ohio built two computers from discarded parts which they transported 1,100 feet through prison grounds (even passing a security checkpoint) before hiding them in the ceiling of a training room. The information has just been made public after the release of the Inspector General’s report (PDF). This report is fascinating and worth your time to read.

This Ethernet router was located in a training room in the prison. Physical access is everything in computer security.

Prisoners managed to access the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections network using login credentials of a retired prison employee who is currently working as a contract employee. The inmates plotted to steal the identity of another inmate and file tax returns under their name. They also gained access to internal records of other prisoners and checked out websites on how to manufacture drugs and DIY weapons, before prison officers were able to find the hidden computers. From the report:

The ODAS OIT analysis also revealed that malicious activity had been occurring within the ODRC inmate network. ODAS OIT reported, “…inmates appeared to have been conducting attacks against the ODRC network using proxy machines that were connected to the inmate and department networks.” Additionally, ODAS OIT reported, “It appears the Departmental Offender Tracking System (DOTS) portal was attacked and inmate passes were created. Findings of bitcoin wallets, stripe accounts, bank accounts, and credit card accounts point toward possible identity fraud, along with other possible cyber-crimes.”

The prisoners involved knew what they were doing. From the interview with the inmate it seems the computers were set up as a remote desktop bridge between internal computers they were allowed to use and the wider internet. They would use a computer on the inmate network and use a remote desktop to access the illicit computers. These were running Kali Linux and there’s a list of “malicious tools” found on the machines. It’s pretty much what you’d expect to find on a Kali install but the most amusing one listed in the report is “Hand-Crafted Software”.

This seems crazy, but prisoners have always been coming up with new ideas to get one over on the guards — like building DIY tattoo guns, When you have a lot of time on your hands and little responsibility, crazy ideas don’t seem so crazy after all.