The history of ‘ransomware’ is fairly new, and ‘WannaCry’ is a new contender. The first major malware attack was that of “CryptoLocker’, a ransomware which utilized Bitcoin transactions to allow for easy, untraceable money exchanges. Before the existence of Bitcoin, cash transactions were easy to trace. However, in an internet like ours, this is no longer the case, and ransomwares can earn millions of dollars without any consequence.
However, this does not mean that all computers are protected. Large computer networks, especially those in business settings, are expensive to update and ‘patch’. For this reason, many consumer services like checkouts at the grocery store still run on older versions of operating systems, like Windows XP or Windows 98. As these systems age, the chance that old vulnerabilities are exploited increases exponentially. This is the reason many regular consumers don’t need to worry about “WannaCry” and its demand of 300 dollars—your system is likely up-to-date and well beyond the vulnerabilities of older systems affected by this malware.