The recent “WannaCry” cyber-attack had all the real-life intrigue and drama of an episode of “24”. A vulnerability first uncovered by the NSA was released by hackers on the internet. Its effects were swift and widespread – more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries were impacted, including hospitals in the U.S. and U.K. The premise of the attack was simple – once a computer was infected, all the data on that device was encrypted. To get it back, users would have to pay a ransom in bitcoin before the end of a countdown. If they failed to do so, their files would be destroyed. The “Jack Bauer” of this story is not a super-operative, with 9 lives living in the shadows, but a 22 year older researcher from southwest England who identifies himself as “MalwareTech“. And he stopped the attack by purchasing a domain for $10.69.
It turns out, after investigating a sample of the WannaCry malware, he found a connection to a specific domain that was not registered. He bought that domain with the hopes of monitoring how the botnet was spreading, but what he found was the kill switch for the ransomware attack. What I love about this story is that in my mind, I envision hundreds and hundreds of cyber experts working through their protocols around the clock, doing what they were trained to do to stop this attack and in the end, it took someone asking the seemingly random question, “I wonder what would happen if I bought this domain?” Unconventional.
Ascolta, a ViON company, works with innovative partners like X-IO and Varonis to help our customers find innovative approaches to managing and analyzing data to defend against asymmetrical threats. A strong defense requires a combination of technology and expertise and unconventional approaches to new challenges. Uncovering threats requires real-time performance for complex analytics on high-volume, high-velocity, streaming data. While that is not new, bringing that capability to the edge, where the data is created certainly is. Our solutions help protect your data from cyber and insider threats where it resides, by analyzing the behavior of the people and machines that access your data, alerting on misbehavior, and enforcing a least privilege model. The smallest insights can yield the biggest rewards. Our job is to help you find those insights.
While the hero of the WannaCry story may not have conformed to Hollywood standards and the ending of this story came with a keystroke and not a bang, MalwareTech by his own description, conforms to a new heroic stereotype – a 22-year-old, tech blogger who skipped college to write code and yes, still lives with his parents. In an unconventional war, the heroes are unconventional. And companies must take unconventional approaches to secure their information and find ways to glean insights from the mountains of data being created. Ascolta, X-IO and Varonis are finding new ways to help our customers protect, access and derive insights from their data. If you are at AFCEA Cyber this week, stop by booth 847 and see how we can help with your cyber analytics strategy.
By the way, I wonder if MalwareTech wears a hoodie?