Cyber security expert Aleksandr Yampolskiy warned on Monday that Apple users are vulnerable to cyber attacks from WannaCry ransomware, which infected hundreds of thousands of computers through a security flaw in outdated versions of Windows last week. The current attack, he explained, merely happened to be targeted at Windows computers.
Friday’s attack affected users in 150 countries across the world. Computers with outdated Windows operating systems in hospitals, factories, schools and shops were infected and taken over by cyber criminals. After encrypting user files, the malicious software displayed a message forcing the user to pay a ransom to regain access to personal data.
Yampolskiy said it was a common mistake to assume that Apple users were immune to this kind of attack. He explained: “It happens that this attack is targeting the Windows computers… But Apple is absolutely vulnerable to similar types of attacks.”
Relying on the cloud, he went on to say, was no safer because you still rely on the security measures of a third party.
The President of the United States, Donald Trump, ordered Homeland Security to hold an emergency meeting on Friday night to assess the seriousness of the threat.
How Does it Work?
The WannaCry ransomware encrypts the majority of user files on a computer with nearly unbreakable code. A message then appears on the screen telling the user to pay a ransom of at least $300 in the online cryptocurrency Bitcoin. At this stage, two countdown timers appear on the screen which inform the user how much time is left before the ransom is doubled and how long before the encrypted documents are deleted from the computer.
Where did WannaCry originate?
Nobody knows at this stage. The current variant is actually the second version of this advanced malware. The initial version appeared a couple of months ago and was spread through phishing emails, which asked the user to click on an attachment. Once the files are opened, the malware is installed, rendering each system vulnerable to attack.