Drivers have lucky escape thanks to ransomeware.
Police in Victoria, Australia, have taken the somewhat dramatic step of outright cancelling around 590 fines that were issued from some 55 speed and red-light cameras after it was discovered they had been subject to the WannaCry ransomware attack that plagued computer systems worldwide back in May.
Acting Deputy Commissioner Ross Guenther made the announcement, stating that over 50 cameras had been affected by the the WannaCry ransomware virus between June 6, and June 22.
During the time of the infection, the cameras has apparently issued 590 speeding and red-light jumping fines. Fined drivers have been told that they will receive letters from the police informing them that the fines have been cancelled.
“Our advice at this stage is that a software virus has been detected however the camera system has not been compromised,” a press statement from the Victoria police department reads. “We will look into all incidents detected by the speed and red light cameras during the time in question as a matter of course. The integrity of the camera system has not been affected.”
The cameras were apparently infected with the now infamous WannaCry ransomware, when a maintenance worker uploaded the WannaCry ransomware software unknowingly by using a an infected USB stick on June 6. Tech workers at the police became suspicious last week, after they began to notice the speed cameras rebooting themselves more often than usual.
“These cameras are about saving lives; those cameras are still operating,” Mr Guenther said. “There have been a number of other fines not issued, those fines will continued to be quarantined until Monday., and will be reviewed as a precaution to ensure the fines issued are valid. The hardware used by the actual cameras should not have been affected by the WannaCry attack.
Ransomware: Not a virus, but spreads like a virus
Ransomware normally spreads by people unwittingly opening emails, clicking on unsafe links, using infected hardware between systems, (such as USB sticks) or opening attached documents infected with a malware. WannaCry developers took advantage of an old Windows exploit to install itself on Windows based computers worldwide. The original code for WannaCry may have been stolen from the NSA when its systems were hacked last year.
Others will follow Wannacry
The rampant success of Wannacry on a global level however, has security experts warning that similar attacks are far more likely in the future. Let’s not split hairs here. Unless we forget, Wannacry was originally only stopped by accident.
According to Krebs on Security, the Wannacry attack may only have earned its perpetrators around $30,000 in total. So while the makers of Wannacry may not have made very much money considering they managed to encrypt something like 200,000 computers worldwide, it most certainly is not a win for IT admins anywhere. Instead the small amount gained may be more down to the fact that for the vast majority of people worldwide, Bitcoin, the payment method for disabling Wannacry, is still an abstract concept.