A computer virus that exploits the same vulnerability as the global “ransomware” attack has latched on to more than 200,000 computers and begun manufacturing digital currency, experts said Tuesday.
The development adds to the dangers exposed by the WannaCry ransomware and provides another piece of evidence that a North Korea-linked hacking group may be behind the attacks. WannaCry, developed in part with hacking techniques that were either stolen or leaked from the U.S. National Security Agency, has infected more than 300,000 computers since Friday, locking up their data and demanding a ransom payment to release it.
Researchers at security firm Proofpoint said the related attack, which installs a currency “miner” that generates digital cash, began infecting machines in late April or early May but had not been previously discovered because it allows computers to operate while creating the digital cash in the background. Proofpoint executive Ryan Kalember said the authors may have earned more than $1 million, far more than has been generated by the WannaCry attack.
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