What the WannaCry cyberattack means for the US

ABC News' Amna Nawaz interviews chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross on the growing fears of a worldwide cyberattack.
8:50 | 05/15/17

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Transcript for What the WannaCry cyberattack means for the US
Hey guys on an here live in New York see you probably heard a massive cyber attack over the weekend has a lot of people on it so. Is it over how and where to go from here what does it mean for you while joining me here in the studio ABC's chief investigative correspondent Brian brought here to make us -- little bit better. By telling us what exactly went down thanks for being here we'll see and I can do that yes please so let the threat first emerged on Friday right. What exactly happened how that it. It was pretty bad at spread rapidly and faster than anything they've seen me 450. Countries 200000. Computers targeted. In this country the biggest it was at FedEx. Which has huge numbers of computers all the trucks have computers. And then overseas in Britain the hospitals the ray Rhodes in Germany and Russia. It's hitting across Asia this afternoon as we speak. So there's a lot going on with attack essentially the hackers took a 20. That was originally developed by US intelligence actually could hack into the computers of terrorists and foreign adversaries. That got leaked out somebody stole it. Put it online and now the criminals as using that to hack into these. Professional. Company web sites for the most part. Demanding a ransom of 300 to 600 dollars or it says your computers will be frozen forever and you never see your files again. So there's 200000 computer spring when he was attacked he returning on and we concede that Messi has ominous message that came up looks. Your files have been encrypted and that the description of how the Golan bit coy in the online currency and paid 300 dollars and up. To get your files unlock to get the key. There have been about thirty to 40000 dollars in payments so far as of right now. But as best we know nobody who has made a payment has actually receive the key to unlock the computer so could be a kind of double scam. Nobody has yet gotten as best we know how so a lot of people we're hearing these phrases want to cry and ransom where it was a sustained attack or they didn't say things and they want a crime is the title. Crocs gave it essentially and it is a kind of ransom they've kidnapped your computer they're holding it hostage at lot of back yet to pay ransom. That is 200000 number and the reason we're getting so much attention this is unprecedented right in this way at this scale. Never seen this act this large simultaneously in the history of the Internet so it's a big deal in that sense. This attack they found a vulnerability in Microsoft essentially. Here's the problem that the government auditor found that itself it was using it to go against terrorist. But. What's the quick settlement they use it to go against regular people. And the Microsoft company became aware of this in. March or April who sent out what they call an upgrade which is really a patch to fix the vulnerability there wasn't. But not everybody download the upgrade. People had the things everywhere and he's from time to time right there's an upgrade available for something to do that you see and but Frist has Microsoft has stopped to sub supporting what they call windows XP and so if you have that there's an offer. So lots of places around the world are still older forms of Microsoft and some have pirated. Copies. In the cheap. And there's no patch for that Microsoft doesn't help. So there's this employee between these upgrades that couldn't stop something like that and the products that are being supported an and other words. There's always a way for people who want to find. Well they they search pilot call them zero days they haven't been exposed yet. And so the government first found this and then it got leaked out some but he still looked and other crooks haven't in the tourney against us. Well let's talk about where we go from here on you probably song Good Morning America this morning trumps Homeland Security advisor Tom postured. Talked about an urgent call for collective action. What does that even mean that's a good question from Jeremy in means much the opposite views. There's not a lot of that the governments can do if people aren't gonna upgrade computers. Microsoft is very critical of the US government for developing this in the first place and not telling Microsoft O there's a hole in your program that people didn't. Instead the governments that will take advances that go against the bad guys says these trucks these bad guys do we know they are doing and where they're priced at this point we do not. And the FBI hopes to be able to track through signatures on line. And to have the money. All the money back to words go. Prime suspects right now organized crime in Eastern Europe Russia and a little Russia was hit particularly hard. They were at this was 150 countries right. So six continents six constant so when they figure out where it was. It strikes me in this day and age this is how people attack one another and you can dupe real damaged. Is this an act of war and some weight it's bound to be state sponsor interstate supporting our state sponsored yeah I guess you could make that case certainly. It appears to B trying to. Can and money trying to raise money doing it gotten tens of thousands are already right so for the average person out there won't what do you do I mean if you keep up to date with your upgrades but they're still all these holes Powell Powell. Well you have to look at Microsoft Microsoft has been aggressiveness isn't looking for the halls of vulnerabilities. And issuing emergency patches try to fix it. The try to do once a month sometimes they they step it up. This patch came out after they learned that the US government had found this well and that was probably the public market. People still initially tried to sell it nobody bought so they just went and put an online. And it could have been a lot worse but for a couple of young computer programs with a computer security business and we discovered a kind of kill switch. Which they activated which slowed it down a contain at least for the moment. Late Friday or Saturday so they noticed something happening they consider him potentially the the malware the rat somewhere in the computer was being asked to respond to a domain address it. And there was no such address. That it and so when they register that the main address it then killed so that's how that's what the kill switch to satellite could have been a lot more slaughters battle up front. That stopped it. Now the question is ruled actors find a way to modify their attack program. To get around the kills. Which we have to assume. That they tried still aren't there you've been talking to other folks who deal with this a regular basis after this keeps them up at night. Are there other versions this. That are a threat right now. Well there's always mean the question is they can still your files. And put him on line or use them for utilities. And bank accounts so or that still your files and hold them for ransom. And this has happened a lot before this. Thousands in the week sometimes I'm officially federal agents tell people humans. It's real. Because hospitals police departments in this country than it. Hospitals were hit hard in Britain. It's it's tough you know this a crook has your files and their extremely valuable to use. 300 dollar payment may seem like a lot. That's it that's all that they want that but it is got your business until you pay the ransom right if you don't have a back up. He immaterial if another copy somewhere offline. All your file you're just ask for. This is horrifying stuff it is. It is so isn't this one over this this one attacker is just taking on a new form so far the second wave this year it has not shown up. But you're getting mostly a people who turned off their computers on Friday limo for the weekend. And they're turning them back on Monday and it shows but once the computers infected. You don't have a solution. I guess there's not and cannot be a good answer to this question but if you turn your computer on. And you see that screen what are you supposed to do. Well the directions are paying ransom I'm not sure you're supposed to do certainly reported to the FBI earned through of the law enforcement agencies that at least contracted. Lots of big companies don't like to admit. This happens if we don't know a couple of salad it's embarrassing that Paris to their board of directors out of this happen again. So lots of big companies are afraid to that that could be a lot more that we know of that. So far the supposed figure. A you have to admit I'm not treating me so much better but you feel like I understand you're informed her that I ended ended much much better anything keeping people out there should know about this understand. Moving forward well just that to the extent that you store materially computers is essential to use and photographs financial records so I'd. If there's no back up you're really putting yourself at risk. Back and a back it up that's critics say ago Brian Ross thank you so much for being they've you very much. And thanks to you for joining us this summer but you can always go to abcnews.com. To follow up on the latest reports. Brian is humor filing other update there so go there stay on top of that our guys with the accuracy.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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