‘Hero’ 22-year-old finds kill switch for global cyber-attack, Trump orders emergency meeting after chilling warning …

An extensive worldwide cyber attack was stopped in its tracks by a 22-year-old British cybersecurity researcher.

Before it was thwarted using a simple domain registration, the attack had affected a large number of major government, financial and health service networks in North and South America, Asia, Europe Africa and Australia.

Clip via Fox News Channel

The attack, which was an attempt to extort millions from the affected entities, was stopped when the researcher, identified only as “MalwareTech,” discovered the “kill switch” and put an end to the scheme.

“US President Donald Trump ordered homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, to hold an emergency meeting Friday night to assess the threat posed by a global computer ransomware attack in at least 150 countries, a senior administration official told Reuters,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

In a blog post describing the incident, MalwareTech said he first became aware of the attack when the UK’s national health system became affected, putting an end to his vacation.

Photo purporting to be of MalwareTech / Source: Daily Mail

“I made it a total of 4 days without working, so there’s that,” he said.

He continued:

When I returned home at about 2:30, the threat sharing platform was flooded with posts about various NHS systems all across the country being hit, which was what tipped me of to the fact this was something big. Although ransomware on a public sector system isn’t even newsworthy, systems being hit simultaneously across the country is (contrary to popular belief, most NHS employees don’t open phishing emails which suggested that something to be this widespread it would have to be propagated using another method). I was quickly able to get a sample of the malware with the help of Kafeine, a good friend and fellow researcher. Upon running the sample in my analysis environment I instantly noticed it queried an unregistered domain, which i promptly registered.

 

But MalwareTech, am independent researcher, wasn’t working alone on this one. He’s part of a global cybersecurity community. Darien Huss, a 28-year-old Western Michigan engineer for Proofpoint, was also working furiously on the problem.

Word of MalwareTech’s blog soon spread throughout the world / Source: Twitter

Huss noticed that the extorters left a kill switch in their coding and shared it on Twitter. That brought the two of them together. This is what the pair had discovered:

“That registering the domain name and redirecting the attacks to MalwareTech’s server had activated the kill switch, halting the ransomware’s infections,” Fox News reported.

Eventually the entire cybersecurity community, including Huss, described MalwareTech the hero in the incident.

“I think the security industry as a whole should be considered heroes,” Huss said, but also cautioned others that the criminals could re-launch the extortion scheme — this time without a kill switch, or a better hidden one.

“I think it is concerning that we could definitely see a similar attack occur, maybe in the next 24 to 48 hours or maybe in the next week or two,” Huss said. “It could be very possible.”

Those outside the cybersecurity community also gave their thumbs up.

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And a few others believed it was time to turn things around with a new hiring blitz.

The ransomware took advantage of a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows, first reported by the National Security Agency.

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