Hackers mint crypto-currency with technique in global ‘ransomware’ attack

A computer virus that exploits the same vulnerability as the global “ransomware” attack has latched on to more than 200,000 computers and begun manufacturing digital currency, experts said Tuesday.

The development adds to the dangers exposed by the WannaCry ransomware and provides another piece of evidence that a North Korea-linked hacking group may be behind the attacks.

WannaCry, developed in part with hacking techniques that were either stolen or leaked from the U.S. National Security Agency, has infected more than 300,000 computers since Friday, locking up their data and demanding a ransom payment to release it.

Proofpoint executive Ryan Kalember said the authors may have earned more than $1 million, far more than has been generated by the WannaCry attack.

Like WannaCry, the program attacks via a flaw in Microsoft Corp’s (O:MSFT) Windows software. That hole has been patched in newer versions of Windows, though not all companies and individuals have installed the patches.

Digital currencies based on a technology known as blockchain operate by enabling the creation of new currency in exchange for solving complex math problems. Digital “miners” run specially configured computers to solve the problems and generate currency, whose value ultimate fluctuates according to market demand.

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