Investigators seek digital clues to cyberattack

FILE - In this May 13, 2017 file photo, a screenshot of the warning screen from a purported ransomware attack, as captured by a computer user in Taiwan, is seen on laptop in Beijing. Global cyber chaos is spreading Monday, May 14, as companies boot up computers at work following the weekend's worldwide "ransomware" cyberattack. The extortion scheme has created chaos in 150 countries and could wreak even greater havoc as more malicious variations appear. The initial attack, known as "WannaCry," paralyzed computers running Britain's hospital network, Germany's national railway and scores of other companies and government agencies around the world. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Investigators looking to catch the perpetrators of the global “ransomware” attack will be looking for digital clues, including monitoring the bitcoin accounts used to collect ransom payments.

It’ll be tough, but not impossible.

Security experts say that bitcoin is often believed to be anonymous, but the transactions are highly traceable. What’s not known is who’s behind a particular account. But the bitcoin money often has to be converted into real-world currency at some point.

Steve Grobman of the security company McAfee says forensics experts will also be looking for clues in the structure of the malware, including how it was written and how it was run. He says the malware was sophisticated, helping to rule out pranksters and lower-level thieves.

The cyberattack that emerged Friday has paralyzed computers running factories, banks, government agencies and transport systems around the world.

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