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Could WannaCry actually spell the end of ransomware?

Major ransomware attacks such as the recent WannaCry malware could become increasingly common within the near future, according to one of the world’s leading security experts.

However the recent success of WannaCry could also end up proving to be a double-edged sword, meaning cyber-criminals may need to re-evaluate their tactics, it has been speculated.

Trend Micro and Europol special advisor Rik Ferguson has warned that the mysterious Shadow Brokers group, responsible for leaking the software used to create WannaCry, could be set to reveal even more damaging hacks soon.

Speaking at the Infosecurity Europe 2017 event in London yesterday, Ferguson warned that

"The more months go by, and more nation-state level toys get released, the more subscribers they will have, the more money they will make, the more WannaCry's we will see." 

However Ferguson also noted that there may be an unexpected silver lining to the WannaCry attacks which could potentially lead to ransomware attacks actually decreasing in the future.

Highlighting that ransomware attacks are modelled around the victim’s encrypted data being returned to them, Ferguson noted that WannaCry was unusual in that the stolen files were often not returned - a fact that may lead to its ultimate demise.

“Ransomware relies on ‘honest criminals’ and WannaCry went against that,” Ferguson said, highlighting that this made the attack, “inconsistent with the ransomware that came before.”

“The more it becomes apparent that paying the ransom does not necessarily mean you get the data back, the less likely people are to pay,” he added.

“Breaking this trust model may just kill the goose that laid the golden egg from the criminals’ perspective because it has made people aware that, even if they pay the ransom, there is no guarantee they will get their data back, and that they do have to focus on other methods of mitigation and recovery.” 

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro, and has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and ITProPortal.