Hackers mining digital cash through computer virus similar to WannaCry ransomware

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SAN FRANCISCOA 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 on 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.

Researchers at security firm Proofpoint said the related attack, which installs a currency "miner" that generates digital cash, began infecting machines late last month or early this month but had not been previously discovered because it allows computers to operate while creating the digital cash in the background.

Proofpoint executive Ryan Kalember said the authors may have earned more than US$1 million (S$1.4 million), far more than has been generated by the WannaCry attack.

Like WannaCry, the program attacks via a flaw in Microsoft Corp's Windows software.

That hole has been patched in newer versions of Windows, though not all companies and individuals have installed the patches. - REUTERS