Hackers Step Out Of The Shadows With Bigger, Bolder Attacks

Stealth and secrecy use to be the hallmarks of cyber espionage and cyber-warfare, with spies and hackers sneaking in and out of target networks without leaving a trace or evidence that could be linked back to them.

But increasingly, cyber-attacks are now carried out in fully public view, and many attackers don't appear to worry so much about keeping under the radar. Some even seem to go out of their way to make sure they are spotted.

One example of the way cyber-attacks have gone public: the WannaCry ransomware caused chaos and made headlines around the world, with many businesses locked out of their PCs by hackers who demanded a bitcoin ransom in exchange for restoring access to data. 

But even if victims opted to give into the attack and pay the ransom, which some did, there was never any means of the attackers fulfilling their end of the deal.

WannaCry was attributed to North Korea, with Pyongyang having taken advantage of EternalBlue, a leaked NSA hacking tool, to help power the spread of the attack. 
It's still not clear whether it was a bungled attempt to make money or simply a show of force by the North Korean regime.

Just weeks later, organisations around the world were hit by what first appeared to be another ransomware attack dubbed NotPetya. But in this case it soon became apparent that acquiring cryptocurrency was never the goal: there wasn't even a means to pay. NotPetya was a wiper, designed to destroy data on the machines it was targeting, not hold them to ransom.

The attack was seemingly designed to target Ukraine, but it spread across the world, causing billions of dollars in damage. In this instance, the US, UK and a number of other states eventually pointed to state-backed Russian hackers as the culprits.

ZDNet:

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