WannaCry attack wreaks international havoc on global network

By Shen Yi Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/18 22:03:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT



WannaCry, the dangerous ransomware leveraging the EternalBlue cyber weapon previously released by the hacker collective Shadow Brokers, continues creating havoc on the global network. EternalBlue is regarded by many as a key cyber weapon in the National Security Agency's arsenal.

What deserves attention is the nature of the malware. After the Cold War, global non-proliferation has been optimized against weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. This attack can be seen as the first instance of a cyberspace attack with global reach.

Some believe that it will change the global cyberspace governance system. However, the direction of change is unlikely to swing from one extreme to the other, and a move from a "law of the jungle" cyber environment toward an ideal digital environment devoted to pacifism and cooperation is unlikely to materialize as a result.

The malware was still able to exert massive negative influences in China even after Microsoft released a patch to protect users on March 14, especially on universities, some State-owned enterprises and relevant government departments. These targets should have been covered by network protection regulations but many failed to prove their capability in installing the patch in time and thereby averting avoidable losses. This is a major concern that needs to be addressed as China strives to develop its cyber power and digital capabilities.

At least for China, ransomware attacks have not been a complete disaster from a national security outlook. With proper alerts when new ransomware attacks begin, the price is relatively bearable.

The recent attack is a testimony to President Xi Jinping's remarks that "No Internet safety means no national security. No informatization means no modernization." The strategy of unilateral and separated cyberspace defense no longer works in a globalized environment. Reliance on absolute security through one or a small number of software defenses has proven unable to safeguard national cyberspace security.

From a global perspective, the rampant WannaCry ransomware reflects the necessity, legitimacy and urgency of jointly building a cyberspace community which was initiated by China in 2015. The community is not an idealistic utopia. It is based on sovereign equality, calling for respecting objective needs and reasonable interests while minimizing risks and uncertainties.

From a realistic point of view, this incident indicates that China and other responsible countries, including the US, should advance building the non-proliferation regime of global cyberspace as soon as possible, in particular a mature mechanism to address vulnerabilities is critical.

With the appearance of similar incidents such as the Shadow Brokers' leaking software weapons, relevant countries will be obliged to abide by standard procedures to stop the proliferation of these intrusive Internet attacks. It is necessary to build a common and pragmatic mechanism to minimize costs and avoid accidental damages. This will be one of the essential issues in building a secure and stable cyberspace community.

The author is associate professor with the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn Follow us on Twitter @GTopinion



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