What is WannaCry? Here's how the ransomware software hijacks your computer.


Over the weekend, a cyberattack left PCs running on Microsoft Windows servers vulnerable to a hack. The software responsible is called WannaCry (also known as Wanna Decryptor) and it takes over your computer until a ransom is paid, CNN reported. First discovered on May 12, the cyberattack has created havoc around the world.

What is WannaCry?

WannaCry is a type of trojan virus called ransomware. What is ransomware? Essentially, it's a specific type of cyber attack that demands ransom from its victims. This particular ransomware program, the Telegraph reports, locks up all data on a computer's operating system except a file with instructions for the user and the malicious software.

How does it work?

In this recent case, the software is delivered to potential victims via email in a compressed file. When the file is opened, the malicious software infiltrates the computer and encrypts all its files.

Mark Schiefelbein/AP

The user is notified that their computer is locked down and instructed to pay a ransom to regain control of their files. BGR reports that the demand is $300 at the time of infection. After three days, the demand is hiked to $600 and after seven days, files will supposedly be deleted.

The attack was clearly meant to be global, as the software supports 28 languages, according to Microsoft. These include: 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.

Who is at risk?

Those who use Apple's Mac computers are not at risk of the recent ransomware attack. Only users running on older Microsoft Windows operating systems are vulnerable — they can now install a security update released by the tech company. Computers with Windows 10 are not at risk.