WannaCry ransomware: What you need to know to keep your data safe
Courtesy: Microsoft, TALOS

A major ransomware attack has affected many organizations across the world reportedly including Telefonica in Spain, the National Health Service in the UK, and FedEx in the US. Ransomware infections comes via attachments and links in emails. Ransomware is a malicious software that encrypts all files stored on a computer and connected share drives. Once the files are encrypted, the infected computer displays a notice requesting payment to obtain the key required to decrypt the files and regain access to the data in them.

The malware responsible for the attacks is a ransomware variously named as WannaCry, WannaCrypt, WannaCryptor, or Wcry. SIL is sharing this important information with your IT and Security teams to ensure you are fully aware, prepared and that your organization is protected against the attack as this malicious software is constantly changing it is important that you follow good security practice by:

  • Not opening attachments included in unsolicited or suspicious emails
  • Not clicking on links in unsolicited or suspicious emails and social media posts.
  • Storing important data in appropriate locations should the need arise to recover it.

Users must be aware that malware/ransomware can be hidden, not just in applications or installation programs, but in what appear to be a document, an image or a video file. To limit the likelihood of downloading content that contains malware, please download only from reputable sites.

The malware then has the capability to scan heavily over TCP port 445 (Server Message Block/SMB), spreading similar to a worm, compromising hosts, encrypting files stored on them then demanding a ransom payment in the form of Bitcoin. It is important to note that this is not a threat that simply scans internal ranges to identify where to spread, it is also capable of spreading based on vulnerabilities it finds in other externally facing hosts across the internet.

On May 12, 2017, many of the Microsoft customers around the world and the critical systems they depend on were victims of this malicious “WannaCrypt” software. Additionally, Microsoft have taken the highly unusual step of providing a security update for all its customers to protect Windows platforms that are in custom support only, including Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003. Customers running Windows 10 are not targeted by the attack, today. Below given are further details of the threat and steps that every individual and business should take to stay protected.

Microsoft has released a security update in March which addresses the vulnerability that these attacks are exploiting. Unfortunately, the malware appears to have affected computers that have not applied the patch for these vulnerabilities. While the attack is unfolding, Microsoft has reminded users to install MS17-010 if they have not already done so. Microsoft antimalware telemetry constantly monitors for such threats, and alerted us to this attack. These systems gives us the visibility and context around the attach, allowing Windows Defender Antivirus to deliver real-time defense. Through automated analysis, machine learning, and predictive modeling, Microsoft is able to protect many up-to-date systems against this malware.

Steps to prevent and protect against this threat

To get the latest protection from Microsoft, upgrade to Windows 10. Keeping your computers up-to-date gives you the benefits of the latest features and proactive mitigations built into the latest versions of Windows.

SIL recommends its customers that if have not yet installed the security update MS17-010, do so as soon as possible. Until you can apply the patch, we also recommend two possible workarounds to reduce the attack surface:

Windows Defender Antivirus detects this threat as Ransom:Win32/WannaCrypt as of the 1.243.297.0 update. Enable Windows Defender Antivirus to detect this ransomware. Windows Defender Antivirus uses cloud-based protection, helping to protect you from the latest threats.

Use Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection, which has machine learning capability that blocks dangerous email threats, such as the emails carrying ransomware.

Monitor your network with Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection, which alerts security operations teams about suspicious activities. Download this playbook to see how you can leverage Windows Defender ATP to detect, investigate, and mitigate ransomware in networks: Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection – Ransomware response playbook.

For enterprises, use Device Guard to lock down devices and provide kernel-level virtualization-based security, allowing only trusted applications to run, effectively preventing malware from running.

Below are Frequently Asked Questions to help you further understand the nature of this malware attack, and to answer some of the questions you might have. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Question: What is WannCrypt Ransomware and How does it attack my environment?
  2. Question: How does the virus enter my systems?
  3. Question: How does WannaCry takes control over my system?
  4. Question: How does the virus spread further into my systems?
  5. Question: What are the necessary steps to prevent from the attack?
  6. Question: What Microsoft Malware Detection Tools can I use?
  7. Question: Where Do I find an additional resources?

Attack vector

A ransomware threat does not normally spread so rapidly. Threats like WannaCrypt typically leverage social engineering or emails as primary attack vector, relying on users downloading and executing a malicious payload. However, in this unique case, the ransomware perpetrators incorporated publicly-available exploit code for the patched SMB EternalBlue vulnerability, CVE-2017-0145, which can be triggered by sending a specially crafted packet to a targeted SMBv1 server, was fixed in security bulletin MS17-010, released on March 14, 2017.

WannaCrypt’s spreading mechanism is borrowed from well-known public SMB exploits, which armed this regular ransomware with worm-like functionalities, creating an entry vector in machines still unpatched even after the fix had become available.

The exploit code used by WannaCrypt was designed to work only against unpatched Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 (or earlier OS) systems, so Windows 10 PCs are not affected by this attack.

We haven’t found evidence of the exact initial entry vector used by this threat, but there are two scenarios we believe are highly possible for this ransomware family:

  • Arrival through social engineering emails designed to trick users to run the malware and activate the worm-spreading functionality with the SMB exploit
  • Infection through SMB exploit when an unpatched computer can be addressed in other infected machines

Dropper

The threat arrives as a dropper Trojan that has the following two components:

  • Ccomponent that tries to exploit the SMB EternalBlue vulnerability in other computers
  • Ransomware known as WannaCrypt

The dropper tries to connect the following domain using the API InternetOpenUrlA():

hxxp://www[.]iuqerfsodp9ifjaposdfjhgosurijfaewrwergwea[.]com

If connection is successful, the threat does not infect the system further with ransomware or try to exploit other systems to spread; it simply stops execution. However, if the connection fails, the dropper proceeds to drop the ransomware and creates a service on the system.

In other words, blocking the domain with firewall either at ISP or enterprise network level will cause the ransomware to continue spreading and encrypting files.

The threat creates a service named mssecsvc2.0, whose function is to exploit the SMB vulnerability in other computers accessible from the infected system:

Service Name: mssecsvc2.0
Service Description: (Microsoft Security Center (2.0) Service)
Service Parameters: “-m security”

WannaCrypt ransomware

The ransomware component is a dropper that contains a password-protected archive in its resource section. The document encryption routine and the files in the .zip archivecontain support tools, a decryption tool, and the ransom message. In the samples we analyzed, the password for the .zip archive is “WNcry@2ol7”.

When run, WannaCrypt creates the following registry keys:

  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run\\<random string> = “<malware working directory>\tasksche.exe”
  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\WanaCrypt0r\\wd = “<malware working directory>”

It changes the wallpaper to a ransom message by modifying the following registry key:

  • HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop\Wallpaper: “<malware working directory>\@WanaDecryptor@.bmp”

It creates the following files in the malware’s working directory:

  • 00000000.eky
  • 00000000.pky
  • 00000000.res
  • 274901494632976.bat
  • @Please_Read_Me@.txt
  • @WanaDecryptor@.bmp
  • @WanaDecryptor@.exe
  • b.wnry
  • c.wnry
  • f.wnry
  • m.vbs
  • msg\m_bulgarian.wnry
  • msg\m_chinese (simplified).wnry
  • msg\m_chinese (traditional).wnry
  • msg\m_croatian.wnry
  • msg\m_czech.wnry
  • msg\m_danish.wnry
  • msg\m_dutch.wnry
  • msg\m_english.wnry
  • msg\m_filipino.wnry
  • msg\m_finnish.wnry
  • msg\m_french.wnry
  • msg\m_german.wnry
  • msg\m_greek.wnry
  • msg\m_indonesian.wnry
  • msg\m_italian.wnry
  • msg\m_japanese.wnry
  • msg\m_korean.wnry
  • msg\m_latvian.wnry
  • msg\m_norwegian.wnry
  • msg\m_polish.wnry
  • msg\m_portuguese.wnry
  • msg\m_romanian.wnry
  • msg\m_russian.wnry
  • msg\m_slovak.wnry
  • msg\m_spanish.wnry
  • msg\m_swedish.wnry
  • msg\m_turkish.wnry
  • msg\m_vietnamese.wnry
  • r.wnry
  • s.wnry
  • t.wnry
  • TaskData\Tor\libeay32.dll
  • TaskData\Tor\libevent-2-0-5.dll
  • TaskData\Tor\libevent_core-2-0-5.dll
  • TaskData\Tor\libevent_extra-2-0-5.dll
  • TaskData\Tor\libgcc_s_sjlj-1.dll
  • TaskData\Tor\libssp-0.dll
  • TaskData\Tor\ssleay32.dll
  • TaskData\Tor\taskhsvc.exe
  • TaskData\Tor\tor.exe
  • TaskData\Tor\zlib1.dll
  • taskdl.exe
  • taskse.exe
  • u.wnry

WannaCrypt may also create the following files:

  • %SystemRoot%\tasksche.exe
  • %SystemDrive%\intel\<random directory name>\tasksche.exe
  • %ProgramData%\<random directory name>\tasksche.exe

It may create a randomly named service that has the following associated ImagePath: “cmd.exe /c “<malware working directory>\tasksche.exe””

Then it searches the whole computer for any file with any of the following file name extensions: .123, .jpeg , .rb , .602 , .jpg , .rtf , .doc , .js , .sch , .3dm , .jsp , .sh , .3ds , .key , .sldm , .3g2 , .lay , .sldm , .3gp , .lay6 , .sldx , .7z , .ldf , .slk , .accdb , .m3u , .sln , .aes , .m4u , .snt , .ai , .max , .sql , .ARC , .mdb , .sqlite3 , .asc , .mdf , .sqlitedb , .asf , .mid , .stc , .asm , .mkv , .std , .asp , .mml , .sti , .avi , .mov , .stw , .backup , .mp3 , .suo , .bak , .mp4 , .svg , .bat , .mpeg , .swf , .bmp , .mpg , .sxc , .brd , .msg , .sxd , .bz2 , .myd , .sxi , .c , .myi , .sxm , .cgm , .nef , .sxw , .class , .odb , .tar , .cmd , .odg , .tbk , .cpp , .odp , .tgz , .crt , .ods , .tif , .cs , .odt , .tiff , .csr , .onetoc2 , .txt , .csv , .ost , .uop , .db , .otg , .uot , .dbf , .otp , .vb , .dch , .ots , .vbs , .der” , .ott , .vcd , .dif , .p12 , .vdi , .dip , .PAQ , .vmdk , .djvu , .pas , .vmx , .docb , .pdf , .vob , .docm , .pem , .vsd , .docx , .pfx , .vsdx , .dot , .php , .wav , .dotm , .pl , .wb2 , .dotx , .png , .wk1 , .dwg , .pot , .wks , .edb , .potm , .wma , .eml , .potx , .wmv , .fla , .ppam , .xlc , .flv , .pps , .xlm , .frm , .ppsm , .xls , .gif , .ppsx , .xlsb , .gpg , .ppt , .xlsm , .gz , .pptm , .xlsx , .h , .pptx , .xlt , .hwp , .ps1 , .xltm , .ibd , .psd , .xltx , .iso , .pst , .xlw , .jar , .rar , .zip , .java , .raw

WannaCrypt encrypts all files it finds and renames them by appending “.WNCRY” to the file name. For example, if a file is named “picture.jpg”, the ransomware encrypts and renames to “picture.jpg.WNCRY”.

This ransomware also creates the file “@Please_Read_Me@.txt” in every folder where files are encrypted. The file contains the same ransom message shown in the replaced wallpaper image (screenshot below).

After completing the encryption process, the malware deletes the volume shadow copies by running the following command:

cmd.exe /c vssadmin delete shadows /all /quiet & wmic shadowcopy delete & bcdedit /set {default} bootstatuspolicy ignoreallfailures & bcdedit /set {default} recoveryenabled no & wbadmin delete catalog -quiet

It then replaces the desktop background image with the following message:

It also runs an executable showing a ransom note which indicates a $300 ransom and a timer:

The text is localized into the following languages: Bulgarian, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, and Vietnamese.

The ransomware also demonstrates the decryption capability by allowing the user to decrypt a few random files, free of charge. It then quickly reminds the user to pay the ransom to decrypt all the remaining files.

Spreading capability

The worm functionality attempts to infect unpatched Windows machines in the local network. At the same time, it also executes massive scanning on Internet IP addresses to find and infect other vulnerable computers. This activity results in large SMB traffic from the infected host, which normally can be observed by SecOps personnel, as shown below.

The Internet scanning routine randomly generates octets to form the IPv4 address and targets that IP to attempt exploitation of CVE-2017-0145. The threat avoids infecting the IPv4 address if the randomly generated value for first octet is 127 or if the value is equal to or greater than 224, in order to skip local loopback interfaces. Once a vulnerable machine is found and infected, it becomes the next hop to infect other machines. The vicious infection cycle continues as the scanning routing discovers unpatched computers.

When it successfully infects a vulnerable computer, the malware runs kernel-level shellcode which seems to have been copied from the public backdoor known as DOUBLEPULSAR, but with certain adjustments to drop and execute the ransomware dropper payload, both for x86 and x64 systems.

Microsoft Malware Detection and Removal Tools

Use the following free Microsoft tools to detect and remove this threat:

Additional Resources

In case you have any concerns as to whether an email message, attachment or link or you require any assistance from our side, please do not hesitate to let us know by contacting our IT Help Desk on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you suspect your computer is infected you should immediately turn it off and contact your System Administrator.