French researchers said on Friday they had found a last-chance way for technicians to save Windows files encrypted by WannaCry, racing against a deadline as the ransomware threatens to start locking up victims' computers first infected a week ago.
WannaCry, which started to sweep round the globe last Friday and has infected more than 300,000 computers in 150 nations, threatens to lock out victims who have not paid a sum of $300 to $600 within one week of infection. (bit.ly/2q0gVEr)
A loose-knit team of security researchers scattered across the globe said they had collaborated to develop a workaround to unlock the encryption key for files hit in the global attack, which several independent security researchers have confirmed.
The researchers cautioned that their solution only works in certain conditions, namely if computers had not been rebooted since becoming infected and if victims applied the fix before WannaCry carried out its threat to lock their files permanently.
Europol said on Twitter that its European Cybercrime Centre had tested the team's new tool and said it was "found to recover data in some circumstances".
The group includes Adrien Guinet, who works as a security expert, Matthieu Suiche, who is an internationally known hacker, and Benjamin Delpy, who helped out by night, in his spare time, outside his day job at the Banque de France.
"We knew we must go fast because, as time passes, there is less chance to recover," Delpy said after a second sleepless night of work this week allowed him to release a workable way to decrypt WannaCry at 6 am Paris time (0400 GMT) on Friday
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