Jeanette Manfra, the assistant director for the US Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), said at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference that a similar attack to WannaCry would be incredibly difficult to prevent.
Manfra said that WannaCry was unique due to how quickly it was able to spread.
“I don’t know that we could ever prevent something like that,” said Manfra.
“We just have something that completely manifests itself as a worm. I think the original perpetrators probably didn’t expect that sort of impact.”
WannaCry affected hundreds of thousands of computers around the world by installing ransomware on vulnerable devices.
To initiate this, hackers who were rumoured to be connected to North Korea allegedly stole hacking tools from the NSA and used them to deliver WannaCry across the world.
The spread of WannaCry was thwarted accidentally by security researcher Marcus Hutchins, who is thought to have prevented millions more infections.
BlueKeep – The next WannaCry
CISA recently warned about a million versions of Windows 7 and older are vulnerable to a new threat, BlueKeep, which could potentially launch an attack similar in magnitude to that of WannaCry.
Much like WannaCry, BlueKeep uses wormable properties to spread incredibly quickly to other devices on the same network.
Some security researchers say that bad actors are destined to develop a BlueKeep exploit and launch a similar attack to WannaCry on these unsuspecting victims.
For this reason, the NSA has issued an advisory to users of these operating systems, warning them to patch their software.