Windows XP Too Unstable To Spread WannaCry

Keep on Guard!


Not a super serious article this one, but I found it very entertaining – apparently, Windows XP has a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) when faced with a WannaCry infection.

Windows XP Too Unstable To Spread WannaCry

There’s a very extension analysis of WannaCry here where this information comes from WannaCry: Two Weeks and 16 Million Averted Ransoms Later.

Yes, WannaCrypt can infect all those machines that still run Windows XP, but because XP is so flaky the zombie boxen are unlikely to have contributed much to the spread of the worm.

That’s the conclusion of Kryptos Logic researchers after a couple of weeks trashing crash-test-dummy machines in the laboratory.

The company notes that the infection rate probably got up to as many as 727,000 unique IPs at its height.

Early in the infection, it was assumed – including by El Reg – that unpatched Windows XP systems were part of the problem, especially since it lives on in the systems of early victim, England’s National Health Service.

Kryptos (whose roster includes celebrated sink-holer MalwareTech) has bumped its head on this for an almost-comical reason: yes, WannyCrypt could infect XP machines, but the underlying DOUBLEPULSAR payload kept crashing the targets.


It seems like the initial assumption that WannaCry would have a lot of Windows XP machines involved looks like it’s probably false as executing the payload on XP SP3 machines (the most common), triggered a random BSOD and reboot.

It’s still a pretty common OS, I see the majority of ATM machines in Asia running Windows XP or Windows XP Embedded as the host OS.

It’s well down the scrollbar in this extensive analysis of WannaCrypt:

The researchers were running through the infection step-by-step: first, manually execute the WannaCrypt binary on a Windows 2008 Server SP1 machine; second, test propagation via the ETERNALBLUE exploit; and third, send the payload on using DOUBLEPULSAR.

Next, the Kryptos chaps went to work on manually backdooring test systems with DOUBLEPULSAR. While that worked just fine on Windows 7 64-bit, SP1, “it was found that both Windows XP hosts kept blue-screening and rebooting without any infection occurring.”

It doesn’t mean that XP was mysteriously protected by its love of BSOD – if you got a user to manually execute it locally, it would encrypt the victim’s files.

However, Kryptos writes, XP probably didn’t contribute much to the number of infected machines, “since the main infection vector was the SME exploit” because “the exploit as implemented in WannaCry does not seem to reliably deploy DOUBLEPULSAR and achieve proper RCE.”

These were their findings basically:

  • Windows XP with Service Pack 2 – No infection
  • Windows XP with Service Pack 3 – Random blue-screen of death (BSOD) but no infection
  • Windows 7 64 bit with Service Pack 1 – Infected after multiple attempts
  • Windows Server 2008 with Service Pack 1 – Could not replicate infection, but reported exploited

Source: The Register

Posted in: Exploits/Vulnerabilities, Malware, Windows Hacking


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