Hackers behind attacks such as WannaCry might not have become hugely rich, but that doesn’t mean they are going to give up any time soon

The destructive potential of ransomware, the malicious software that is used to extort money from victims, is huge: in the first half of 2017, two major outbreaks, WannaCry and NotPetya, led to service outages from organisations around the world.

A third of the UK’s National Health Service was hit by WannaCry, and the outbreak was estimated by risk modelling firm Cyence to have cost up to $4bn in lost revenues and mitigation expenses. Then, a month later, NotPetya (so-called because it is not Petya, another type of ransomware with which it was initially mistaken), brought down a significant chunk of the Ukrainian government, pharmaceutical company Merck, shipping firm Maersk, and the advertising agency WPP, as well as the radiation monitoring system at Chernobyl.

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