WannaCry ransomware bitcoin wallets emptied

The three bitcoin wallets linked to the WannaCry malware that hit 300,000 computers using Microsoft Corp.’s operating system in more than 150 countries, were emptied out on Friday, analysts have confirmed.

The wallets contained a total of 52 BTC which amount to around $140,000 (£105,000). The cryptocurrency was paid by victims of WannaCry in an attempt to unlock their computers from the malicious encryption software, but now they have been removed from their online wallets.

It has been nearly three months since infections struck organisations worldwide, including the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, FedEx Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Renault, which faced days of disruption as a result.

The fallout for European companies affected in global cyberattacks has proven costly.

For the past 10 weeks, three bitcoin address containing the payment have been given more scrutiny than possibly any others on the blockchain.

But last week, something stirred – and increments of $20,000-worth of bitcoin began moving into seven new addresses. Slowly, the three addresses that had held the attention of the world began to empty.

In each of the cases, the tokens have been divided into multiple smaller amounts, and sent off to other bitcoin addresses.

"This morning, between 3:00 and 3:30 AM GMT, the three wallets have been emptied and the money split into further ones," said Rayna Stamboliyska, an independent cyber risk manager in an email.

The balance of all wallets known to be associated with WannaCry is now zero.

The bitcoin activity was noticed by a Twitter bot set up by Quartz journalist Keith Collins.

At the time of the incident in May, WannaCry attracted global headlines, and bitcoin got a share of the blame.

As bitcoin's value grew over the course of the year, and as it attracted a new class of investors, the incident emerged as a black mark – the latest reminder of how the technology can be used to nefarious ends.

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