WannaCry spreading though WhatsApp and e-banking is fake news

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 17 May 2017

- Reuters

PETALING JAYA: Two viral messages claiming that the WannaCry ransomware is being distributed through online banking services and WhatsApp are hoaxes, a source at CyberSecurity Malaysia confirms.

One of the messages claim that the cyberattack has reached the Internet banking sector, and advises users against performing online transactions or online purchases.

Another message claims that the ransomware is now "WhatsApp compatible" and might be embedded in mobile phones when the user opens an attachment that looks like a "good morning" or "thought of the day" message.

The messages, which are spreading via messaging apps such as WhatsApp, are followed by a link to The Star Online story about Malaysia being hit by the WannaCry ransomware, lending an air of authenticity to the fake news.

The article, dated May 14, reports that Malaysia's cyber security agency has issued an alert about the cyberattack, but makes no mention of it spreading through online banking or WhatsApp.

CyberSecurity Malaysia confirmed with The Star that both messages are false.

The Association of Banks in Malaysia (ABM) has also confirmed that the messages on disruption of Internet banking services and automated teller machine (ATM) services, possibly due to ransomware attacks, are not true.

Bernama reported earlier Wednesday saying that ABM member banks offering Internet banking and ATM services had confirmed that these services were operating as usual.

"While some ATMs around the country may experience occasional downtime during this period, such unavailability of ATM services is merely due to normal maintenance issues, such as machine replenishment requirements or routine system management," Bernama quoted ABM.

In a press conference Wednesday, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau urged the people not to fall prey to fake viral messages about the WannaCry ransomware.

"Do not panic and easily believe viral messages spreading through social media. Make sure the email you receive is genuine and authenticated before clicking on any link, image or video that is being spread through WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and such applications," he said.

The WannaCry attack began last Friday and among those hit were Britain's National Health Service, Russia's interior ministry and international shipper FedEx.

The WannaCry ransomware, which infected hundreds of thousands of computers in more than 150 countries, encrypts the data on a victim's computer or network.

The perpetrators promise to release the data if the victim pays US$300 (RM1,300) in Bitcoin cyber-currency.

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