What is EternalBlue malware?

Answered by Willie Powers

EternalBlue is a type of malware that belongs to a category known as an exploitation tool. It was one of the several tools leaked by a group called The Shadow Brokers (TSB) in April 2017. This particular tool takes advantage of vulnerabilities in the way Windows implemented the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol.

The Server Message Block protocol is used by Windows for sharing files, printers, and other resources on a network. It allows different devices to communicate and access shared resources. However, the implementation of SMB in older versions of Windows had certain weaknesses that could be exploited by attackers.

EternalBlue specifically targets a vulnerability in the SMB version 1 protocol. This vulnerability allows an attacker to execute arbitrary code remotely on a target system without the need for user authentication. It essentially allows the attacker to take control of the vulnerable system and carry out malicious activities.

The exploit used by EternalBlue works by sending specially crafted packets to a target system. These packets contain malicious code that triggers the vulnerability in the SMB protocol. Once the vulnerability is successfully exploited, the attacker gains control over the system and can execute any commands or actions they desire.

The impact of EternalBlue became highly visible with the outbreak of the WannaCry ransomware in May 2017. WannaCry utilized the EternalBlue exploit to spread rapidly across networks, infecting unpatched systems and encrypting files, demanding a ransom for their release. It caused widespread disruption and financial losses for organizations and individuals worldwide.

Another notable example of malware that leveraged the EternalBlue exploit is the NotPetya ransomware. NotPetya, which emerged in June 2017, also used EternalBlue to propagate itself within networks and cause significant damage.

The release of EternalBlue and its subsequent use in high-profile ransomware attacks highlighted the importance of timely patching and regular software updates. Microsoft had actually released a security update (MS17-010) to address the vulnerability exploited by EternalBlue prior to the WannaCry outbreak. However, many organizations and individuals failed to apply the patch, leaving their systems vulnerable to attack.

EternalBlue is a dangerous exploit that takes advantage of weaknesses in the SMB protocol implementation in older versions of Windows. It allows attackers to remotely execute arbitrary code on vulnerable systems, giving them control over the targeted devices. The WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware strains were two notable malware that utilized EternalBlue, causing widespread disruption and emphasizing the importance of timely patching and system updates.