Go to contents

Worst-ever ransomware

Posted May. 15, 2017 07:19,   

Updated May. 15, 2017 07:34


British National Health Service hospital employees were attacked online Saturday. They were unable to open their emails, while their medical and patient protection system failed one by one. A blackmail appeared on the screen, threatening the users will never gain access to their files after a week if they fail to send 300 dollars-worth bitcoins (virtual currency) each within four days. The British daily Guardian reported that there was a mass relocation of patients as 48 hospitals stopped emergency treatments.

As the name goes, the compound "ransome (hostage price)" and "ware (product)" is a form of "cyber hostage" where hackers take data as hostage and demand money. Appeared for the first time in 2005, the online crime evolved into various forms. In recent days, around 100 nations were attacked 75,000 times in just a day, and Korea was not an exception as well. Europol (European Police Force) also announced the recent development as "historically unprecedented."

The mastermind behind this ransomware is 33-year-old Russian hacker Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev. Known as the most notorious and dangerous hacker in history, he is on the wanted list at 3 million dollars. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Bogachev led a team of multinational hackers from 12 nations, and stole a total of 100 million dollars from online accounts.

According to the global security service provider Symantec, the number of ransomware attacks have increased by 36 percent year-on-year, demanding an average of 1,077 dollars. Even if victims pay ransom money, there is no guarantee whatsoever if they can retrieve their data.

Ransomware is a vivid example of how the cybercrime backed by anonymity and cross-borderness, along with hard-to-trace virtual money can threaten our daily lives in this hyper-interconnected world. To this end, many advanced nations have been running anti-cybercrime organizations comprised of experts in the private, public, and military sectors since a few years ago.

U.S. Cyber Command protects not only defence, but also private sectors as well, while Japanese National Cyber Security Center directed by the prime minister oversees the entire private, public and military sectors. In Korea, however, that function is dispersed among the National Intelligence Service, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, and the Ministry of Defense. Now is the time to consolidate national security efforts by integrating the currently dispersed functions led by the chief of the Office of National Security or the NIS.