May 15, 2017 08:12 AM EDT
The cyber attack was expertly hidden but a vigilant young scientist along with fellow 20-something engineers was able to detect and stop it. If the attack was not detected earlier, it could cause serious and expensive damage to government and private organizations around the world.
It was a typical day for a young British cybersecurity researcher who calls himself MalwareTech when he discovered the 'kill switch,' a device that can turn off a computer or a software remotely. He then analyzed a sample of the malicious software where he discovered the hidden code embedded with an unfamiliar web address.
On the other hand, another research engineer from the cyber security firm Proofpoint in the United States, Darien Huss, also discovered the kill switch and tweeted about it. After that, the two researchers were collaborating with one another about what they'd discovered - the kill switch was activated after they registered the domain name and created a 'sink hole' altogether stopping the spread of the infection.
The ransomware wreaked havoc last Friday and affected some bog companies worldwide including FedEx and UK's National Health Service, where operations were canceled and records became inaccessible.
Although the ransomware stopped spreading, the kill switch cannot help those whose computer have been infected by the ransomware. Proofpoint's Ryan Kalember said that it is possible the ransomware have other variants with different kill switches.
According to the Guardian, the ransomware was created by a group called Shadow Brokers who made the virus available on April 14. The same group also claimed responsibility for stealing a storage of cyber weapons from the National Security Agency (NSA) last year.
MalwareTech, on the other hand, refused to be identified saying it was just a five-minute fame and that he doesn't want the bad guys to discover who he is for fear that they might retaliate.
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