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French researchers find last-ditch cure to unlock WannaCry files

19 May 2017, 09:21 | Ross Houston

French researchers find last-ditch cure to unlock WannaCry files

The ransomware is a type of malicious software that infects a computer and restricts users’ access to it until a ransom is paid to unlock

The software has only been tested on a handful on computers that too only machines using Windows XP.

Developer Adrien Guinet has published a program which can decrypt files locked by the WannaCry ransomware, with a couple of major catches to its use: it's only compatible with Windows XP, and if the system has been rebooted since infection it won't work.

Do remember that this is only for Windows XP users infected with WannaCry who have not rebooted their systems at all since the encryption.

Nevertheless, victims of WannaCry can now bank on a third-party decrypting tool called "Wannakey", which enables affected users to decrypt or patch the ransomware attack on Windows. But in order for it to find the numbers, Suiche said, you have to "cross fingers that your prime numbers haven't been overwritten", which would happen if you tried to restart your computer at any time after it was infected. "Please also note that you need some luck for this to work (see below), and so it might not work in every case!" The ransomware uses the Microsoft Cryptographic Application Program Interface included with Windows to handle numerous functions, including generating the key for encrypting and decrypting the files.

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But the authorities remain on high alert, and experts warn the attackers could tweak the code and launch a fresh wave of attacks. This virus has been designed as a "worm", which means it can automatically spread to other computers on the same network.


Suiche, based in Dubai and one of the world's top independent security researchers, provided advice and testing to ensure the fix worked across all various versions of Windows.

Guinet says an overlooked limitation in XP, however, can prevent this erasure. "But this is so far the only workable solution to help enterprises to recover their files if they have been infected and have no back-ups", Suiche said of network back-up and retrieval systems which allow users with infected computers to restore them after re-imaging their PCs.

Guinet, a security researcher at Paris-based Quarks Lab, published the basic technique for decrypting WannaCry files on Thursday, which Delpy then figured out how to turn into a practical tool to salvage files.

Last Friday, WannaCry attacked more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries after someone used an advanced hacking tool developed by the National Security Agency to deliver the ransomware. EternalBlue first came into the public domain in April when a mysterious group calling itself the Shadow Brokers released it and dozens of other cyberweapons used for years by the NSA. This post will be updated if new newsworthy details become available.



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