Remember WannaCry? Yes, the same notorious ransomware that targeted more than 200,000 victims worldwide in May 2017. It turns out the cyber threat is back with a bang and this time the victim is none other but the aviation giant Boeing Corporation.
All Hands On Deck
According to reports, a Boeing production plant in Charleston, South Carolina, found itself at the receiving end of the infamous crypto worm (a type of malware developed using cryptography).
It looks like the attack was detected pretty early and Mike VanderWel, Chief Engineer at Boeing Commercial Airplane production unit, dispatched a company-wide memo asking for “all hands on deck.”
“It is metastasizing rapidly out of North Charleston, and I just heard 777 (automated spar assembly tools) may have gone down,” reads the memo.
As the news broke, it created a panic in some quarters as it was theoretically possible for the virus to affect equipment used in functional airplane tests, which could worsen the already bad situation by infecting in-flight software.
However, Boeing played down the severity of the attack and released a statement on March 28, 2018, saying that only a limited number of machines were affected.
It further clarified that the production lines were working as usual without any interruption of any kind.
“A number of articles on a malware disruption are overstated and inaccurate,” the statement continued.
“Our cybersecurity operations center detected a limited intrusion of malware that affected a small number of systems. Remediations were applied and this is not a production or delivery issue.”
Linda Mills, the head of communications for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, later rebuked VanderWel’s initial warning that some Boeing 777 equipment had been compromised.
Mills added that software patches had already been successfully deployed to address the issue.
A Ransomware Built for the Crypto Era!
If you remember, the May 2017 WannaCry attack was one of the worst in recent times. According to one assessment, nearly 200,000 users and more than 300,000 machines were affected.
Such was the severity of the attack that it even stirred an international controversy as the Trump administration released a statement blaming the cyberterrorism unit of North Korea as the perpetrator behind the cyber threat.
The ransomware exploited a critical vulnerability in the Windows operating system and completely locked down the infected machines.
The perpetrators then demanded a ransom from the owners of the locked-down machines of which should be paid in bitcoin.
The attacks subsided shortly after they began, but the damage was already done with most victims allegedly not being able to retrieve their data even after paying the ransom.
The only positive thing to have come out of the whole fiasco was that many who were previously oblivious to the existence of ransomware became aware of such a threat.
In fact, such was the dread caused by WannaCry that some organizations even purchased and hoarded bitcoin in bulk in anticipation of future ransomware strikes.