WH: Global Ransomware Attack Not a Tool Developed by the NSA

By Melanie Arter | May 15, 2017 | 7:18pm EDT
White House Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert (Screenshot of C-SPAN video)

(CNSNews.com) - The ransomware attack that attacked computer systems globally last week was not a tool developed by the National Security Agency (NSA), White House Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert said Monday.

“So this was not a tool developed by the NSA to hold ransom data. This was a tool developed by culpable parties, potentially criminals of foreign nation states, that was put together in such a way so to deliver it with phishing emails, put it into embedded documents, and cause an infection in encryption and locking,” Bossert said.


The ransomware attack dubbed WannaCry or WannaCrypt infected more than 300,000 machines in about 150 countries as of Monday morning, Bossert said, but “the good news is the infection rates have slowed over the weekend.”

Bossert said he spoke to his counterpart in Great Britain and learned that “they have a feeling of control over this ransomware event.”

“We continue closely monitoring the situation around the clock at the highest levels of government. We're bringing all the capabilities of the U.S. government to bear on this issue, and are working side-by-side with our partners in the private sector and our international partners,” Bossert said.

“The ransomware has disrupted telecommunications companies, hospitals, and other organizations. The UK National Health Care Service announced 48 of its organizations were affected, and that resulted in inaccessible computers and telephone service, but an extremely minimal effect on disruption to patient care. That was something quite evident in my conversation,” he said.

“Computers at the Spanish telecommunications company, Telefonica, were compromised, and we had a small number of affected parties in the U.S., including FedEx,” added Bossert.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly “continues to lead operations and public/private coordination. His team is issuing twice daily situation reports, is holding multiple calls per day among experts in operational centers managing our response.”

“As of today, no federal systems are affected,” Bossert said.

“Overall, the U.S. infection rate has been lower than many parts of the world, but we may still see a significant impact on additional networks as these malware attacks morph and change,” Bossert warned.

“Despite appearing to be criminal activity intended to raise money, it appears that less than $70,000 has been paid in ransoms, and we are not aware of payments that led to any data recovery,” he said.

Bossert advised people to download a patch from Microsoft to protect against the malware attack.

“If you follow the mitigation advice published by DHS, the FBI and Microsoft, and have patched your systems, you are protected against all these variance. It's also important to know that pirated, stolen or otherwise unlicensed versions of affected software often will not receive patches. So it's important to not use that unlicensed software. If you do, you’ll be subject to extraordinarily susceptible infection,” Bossert said.

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