Lauri Love: how reformed hackers halted the WannaCry virus

When the Shadow Brokers released dangerous NSA hacking tools on to the internet, Lauri Love, teamed-up with friends in IT security to analyse the threat. Working with former members of the Lulzsec hacking group, who are now using their security skills to benefit society, Love set up an IRC research group, which attracted over 250 security researchers, to assess the risks, and to encourage organisations to patch their computer systems before the malware was inevitably exploited.

The warnings were largely ignored, until WannaCry brought down computer systems in Brazil, Russia, Spain, and caused widespread damage in the UK’s National Health Service.  Love worked with fellow security researchers, spending a weekend without sleep, to deconstruct WannaCry and to produce a definitive technical analysis of WannaCry to help organizations protect themselves.

It was only the actions of one security researcher, known as Malwaretech, who discovered the key to halting the attack, that prevented lives in the NHS being lost, Love argues in this talk presented at the Byline Festival on 2nd June 2017. WannaCry was followed by new malware that exploited the same NSA hacking tools, posing new challenges for the researchers.

In this in depth, and highly informed presentation, Lauri Love charts the history of WannaCry malware, its causes, and the lessons that should have been learned. Microsoft, the NSA, and the UK government, which decided to save money by cutting its subscription to security support for Windows XP computers widely used in the NHS, all share culpability.

“We need to start thinking about setting norms in cyberspace. Instead of trying to have a competitive advantage, you make things secure,” he says.


 Producer Neils Ladefoged, the Courage Foundation and Byline.

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