It has been a long week for anyone hit by the WannaCry ransomware attack, and the hackers will soon start locking computers that have been hit and dumping data online. But there's hope yet - French researchers may have found a fix at the last possible minute.
To recap, the ransomware attack began last week, with 300,000 computers from 150 different countries hit by the hack. The hack locked out people from computers, from personal to business-related, threatening to lock out the computers if those affected didn't pay a $300 to $600 ransom.
With the deadline for it getting closer by the second, specialists and researchers have scrambled for the past week to find a solution without paying.In their efforts to fix this, a team of security researchers from all over the world formed to consolidate efforts and share resources. The group consisted of Adrien Guinet, a securities expert, hacker Matthieu Suiche, and Benjamin Delpy, who works at the Banque de France.
Their efforts seem to have yielded some results, but it does come with certain caveats. In order for their potential fix to work, victims have to apply the fix before WannaCry starts locking files. Additionally, the solution will only work if the affected computer hasn't been restarted since getting infected. The details of the fix were posted in a blog entry by Suiche, laying out what the group had developed, along with a link to the tool, called Wannakey. They also had a second program, called Wanakiwi, as a supplementary program to work around the ransomware further.
Before and after Wannakey and Wanakiwi were released, the group tested both programs to ensure that these would work with computers and operating systems.The results yielded what look to be positive results, with the programs able to work on Windows XP to Windows 7. This is good since a bulk of the computers hit by the attack used those operating systems. Most of these were missing security updates that would have prevented the hack, largely due to Microsoft pulling support for the older OS systems.
Suiche did make a point of saying that the WannaCry fix, while timely, was the only working solution anyone could come up with, and it wasn't perfect. It's designed to retrieve files that would otherwise be lost if and when users get permanently locked out of their computers. At this point, however, any solution is better than no solution at all.