What is a WannaCry Ransomware?

The meaning of WannaCry Ransomware refers to a type of malicious software that encrypts a user’s files, making them inaccessible unless a ransom is paid. It was first discovered in May 2017 and spread rapidly, affecting more than 200,000 computers around the world. The ransomware is believed to have originated from the shadowy hacker group, the Shadow Brokers, who obtained the ransomware code from the National Security Agency.

Once a computer is infected with WannaCry, it will display a message demanding the user pay a ransom in the form of Bitcoin in order to regain access to their files. The ransom amount is typically between $300 and $600, but it can increase if the user does not pay within a certain amount of time. The ransomware has been used to target individuals, businesses, and government organizations, so it is important to take measures to protect yourself from this type of attack. These measures include updating your computer regularly, running anti-virus software, and backing up your data.

Simplified Example

Just like a thief breaking into a home and holding valuable possessions for ransom, WannaCry takes control of a victim's computer files and demands payment for their release. If the victim does not pay the ransom, their files will remain encrypted and inaccessible for the end user.

The History of WannaCry Ransomware

In May 2017, WannaCry ransomware emerged as a devastating global cyber threat, plunging hospitals, financial institutions, and government entities into chaos. The sophisticated malware exploited a Microsoft Windows vulnerability known as EternalBlue, which had been leaked by the NSA. Beginning with Telefonica in Spain, the ransomware swiftly traversed borders, infecting systems in over 150 countries and inflicting havoc on vital services, including the UK's NHS and FedEx, culminating in an estimated $8 billion in damages.

Amidst the tumult, a pivotal moment arose when British researcher Marcus Hutchins identified a kill switch embedded in WannaCry's code. His prompt activation of this switch halted the malware's rampant spread, providing a crucial window for organizations to fortify their defenses and mitigate the impact. This watershed event spurred a unified global response, amplifying cybersecurity efforts and underscoring the imperative for enhanced digital security measures and international collaboration to thwart such catastrophic cyber threats. WannaCry stands as a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities in our digital infrastructure, catalyzing a heightened focus on robust cybersecurity frameworks and fostering resilience in the face of evolving cyber dangers.


National Health Service (NHS) attack: In May 2017, the WannaCry ransomware attack affected multiple National Health Service (NHS) organizations in the United Kingdom, causing widespread disruption to healthcare services.

Telefonica attack: The Spanish telecommunications giant, Telefonica, was one of the largest companies affected by the WannaCry attack in May 2017. The ransomware disrupted the company's operations and resulted in a significant financial loss.

FedEx attack: In May 2017, the global delivery company, FedEx, was among the organizations affected by the WannaCry attack. The ransomware caused significant disruptions to the company's operations and resulted in a significant financial loss.

  • Ransomware: Ransomware is a type of malicious software that encrypts the files on a computer or network and demands payment from the victim in exchange for a decryption key.

  • Virus A computer virus is a form of malicious software that attaches itself to legitimate files and applications, with the intent to cause damage or disruption.