The WannaCry Ransomware campaign that struck users globally early last week has been thought to have started with malware-infected phishing emails, but according to Malwarebytes, that’s not the case.

Malwarebytes claims that instead of starting via phishing email, the ransomware campaign was instead initiated by scanning for vulnerable SMB ports exposed to the public internet. Hackers then used the NSA’s EternalBlue exploit to gain access to the target network and deployed the DoublePulsar backdoor to gain persistence, allowing for the installation of additional malware, like WannaCry.

Adam McNeil, a Senior Malware Intelligence Analyst at Malwarebytes explains, “Without otherwise definitive proof of the infection vector via user-provided captures or logs, and based on the user reports stating that machines were infected when employees arrived for work, we’re left to conclude that the attackers initiated an operation to hunt down vulnerable public facing SMB ports, and once located, using the newly available SMB exploits to deploy malware and propagate to other vulnerable machines within connected networks.”

Regardless of how the WannaCry campaign originated, the key takeaways for organizations to keep in mind from this global attack remain the same: organizations must regularly and in a timely fashion patch their systems, migrate to newer, supported operating systems if possible, and lastly, disable needless protocols like SMB and network segmentation.


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