Return to Transcripts main page


Second Wave of Ransomware Hacks; North Korea Warns U.S.; Democrats Want Independent Investigation; Supreme Court Won't Hear NC Case; Hazing Victim's Parents Speak Out. Aired 9:30-10:00a ET

Aired May 15, 2017 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Why? Because, well, it's a sign that they've been hacked.

David Kennedy is with us. He's a cyber security consultant and former NSA official.

Thank you so much for being here. I can't think of a better voice on this, this morning.

This is the second wave. And I know, you know, they were able to enact this kill switch and kill it off, but the issue here is variance, right? I mean that these attackers might have more variants of this malware and just strike again.

DAVID KENNEDY, CYBER SECURITY CONSULTANT: That's exactly right. The biggest concern is that while the kill switch, which effectively rendered this software useless at the time, there's going to be new variants coming out very soon. In fact, we've already seen one as of yesterday that was beaconing out to a different address and that was shut down very quickly as well. But the variants themselves are what's the most concerning one about it. And since this has had such a large global impact already, new ransomware authors are already making the new software and they're trying to release it as quick as possible. So this is definitely a warning to companies to get the patches out immediately as soon as possible, get it out as soon as you can, to try to - try to reduce the impact of this globally.

BERMAN: How sophisticated is this particular virus, you know, and how does it manifest itself?

KENNEDY: Well, the actual virus itself is not that sophisticated. We - you know, the global estimates right now are around $48,000 that it was able to yield with just this one ransomware attack. But the sophisticated part about this is that it's using a tool that was leaked from the Russians, the - what was called the shadow brokers, from the NSA spy tools that they used to conduct cyber operations. And so this tool that was leaked was essentially an exploit that gives you access into almost any Windows - newer Windows operating system, everything from Windows XP, all the way to Windows 8. And so the problem is, is it has what's called a worm capability, which -- with just one person clicking that link and opening up a document that affects their machine, it spreads across the network like a wildfire, you know, basically taking the whole network as ransom. So that's the biggest problem with this one is that it's using the NSA's tools to actually go and do this.

HARLOW: Two-fold question. Why has the United States - I mean we see that map and we see all the orange on it in the United States, but it appears, from all the reporting I've read, that the U.S. wasn't hit as hard in this or at all.


HARLOW: And then, secondly, why not Macs? Why just Windows?

KENNEDY: That's a great question. So the first part of it is, when this - this piece of malware got released, the wannacry (ph), it was at the early hours around U.K. and different parts of the globe. And so by the time it had reached us and we were starting to wake up in the morning, you know, the users are the ones that infect the networks the most, you know, it had already been killed at that point in time. So it was actually contained by the time it hit us in the United States.

HARLOW: Right.

KENNEDY: So it was less of an impact. But don't - believe me, we are at 100 percent venerable here. Our hospitals, our water treatment facilities, our, you know, industrial control systems, those are all vulnerable right now and they're not getting the upgrades that they need to. The second piece of it is that this specific worm that was leaked from the NSA's tool kit only targeted Microsoft Windows. It did not target Macs and OSX or anything like that or Linux (ph). It specifically goes after Windows itself. So Mac users don't need to be concerned at this point in time. There's no active worm out for Macs. It is only Windows specific operating systems and Microsoft has released a patch and did two months ago.

BERMAN: Yes, and, you know, look, this is more than just, don't open, you know, random attachments on your computer.


BERMAN: Make sure you update with the various software that your company provides. Do it. Do it now or else you're going to be in trouble.

KENNEDY: Yes. That's right.

BERMAN: David Kennedy, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

KENNEDY: Thank you so much. Yes, have a good one.

BERMAN: All right, flights from Europe to the United States could soon fall under the Trump administration's laptop ban. U.S. official say they will meet European counterparts Wednesday.

HARLOW: The urgent talks, they say, is to discuss new threats, and include European destinations under the airplane cabin laptop ban. Under the ban, passengers traveling from some mid-eastern countries are not allowed to carry electronic devices that are bigger than their cell phones on board.

Ahead for us, North Korea firing off another missile, issuing a strong warning to the United States. What this means for the president as he makes his way overseas this week.


[09:38:00] BERMAN: This morning, a new threat from North Korea. The state media there says the United States mainland is now within range of a possible missile strike.

HARLOW: And after a successful launch over the weekend, North Korean officials are warning the United States not to provoke them.

We're joined by our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

So what's different, Barbara, this time about this launch and how successful it was?


Poppy and John, good morning.

Pentagon defense officials are telling us they're watching this one very carefully. Why? Because this time the North Korean missile flew further and higher altitude than ever before, actually exiting the earth's atmosphere.

It all sounds very technical, but why is it so important if? Because if the North Koreans were able to achieve this and bring that missile down in a controlled fashion, that gives them something called re- entry capability. Re-entering the earth's atmosphere aiming towards a target. And that puts them on the road to an intercontinental ballistic missile that someday could, in fact, reach the United States.

So all analysis now being done on exactly how this missile came down. It's a really critical question because if they were successful, they have made this critical step forward to being able to attack at very long ranges.

But this missile in particular actually flew towards Russia and dropped into the ocean about 60 miles south of the Russian city of Vladivostok, a critical security area for the Russians. That's the headquarters of their pacific fleet. Now the Russians on high alert against further missile launches. Nobody thinks they were targeting Russia, but it just adds up to the mystery, the puzzle of trying to put together all the pieces of what success North Korea may have had in this very unusual missile launch.

John. Poppy.

HARLOW: Barbara - Barbara, before we let you go, you said something that struck me, you said a lot of focus right now at the Pentagon on how this missile came down. We know that THAAD, that anti-missile defense system, has been - is operational, right, in South Korea. Is that the thinking that that was used?

[09:40:12] STARR: No. There's actually no indication at this point that either the U.S. or the Russians made any effort to shoot down the North Korean missile. It's not even at all clear, frankly, that the Russians knew that North Korean missile was coming so close to their shores. Again, 60 miles off their coastline.

The Russians claim it was much further away. But, still, they went on high alert in their far eastern area near North Korea. So this was a very unusual trajectory, a very unusual path for the North Koreans to pursue. And now the real analysis is, how did it go so far, how did it go so high, such a high altitude, and did the North Koreans bring it down in a controlled fashion, and that would be a very critical advance for them.

BERMAN: All right, Barbara Starr, thank you very, very much.

We want to discuss this now with Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York. He's a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Congressman, thanks so much for being with us.

You were just in South Korea a few weeks ago, so you've been looking at this firsthand. After all the maneuvering, after all the posturing, public, private the administration has done over the last two months, I think, to deal with North Korea and their missile testing, to have what is a very significant, sophisticated test take place over the weekend, what's your reaction?

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D), NEW YORK: This is a very complicated scenario. And it also speaks to the fact that we do need to work in a multilateral manner. You know, we - when I was there, clearly Japan, South Korea, now you're even seeing Russia, and China, all of us have to be very engaged and I think that there needs to be additional (ph) multilateral sanctions against North Korea. China definitely has to be stronger against North Korea because the whole North Korean economy, what's left of it, is dependent upon China.

HARLOW: So President Trump has projected confidence in China being willing to do more, and he has asserted, at least recently, that China is doing its part, talking about turning back coal shipments, et cetera, from North Korea. The vice president, Mike Pence, said when he was over in Asia, we're going to abandoned the failed policy of strategic patience and he said that North Korea is, quote, "getting the message." What is it that you want this administration to demand that China do at this point?

MEEKS: Well, I think that the - the dialogue and conversation with China has not been as firm as it should be, number one. What does China want? You know, when I was in South Korea, there was a lot of dialogue saying that we were talking back and forth, but China wants something and I don't think that the administration has dealt with what China wants. We need to figure out what that is and have those real conversations in that regards because China, in my estimation from when I was there, seems to be using North Korea as a buffer from China and China's interests. But this threat - HARLOW: You mean banking, financial?

MEEKS: Well, not only banking, they - you know, China doesn't like the fact that the United States is in the area with Japan - you know, with our airbases. They don't like the fact that we're putting THAAD there. So they would like us not to be there so that China would look like it is the unifying force of the peninsula. That can't happen. We're not going to leave our allies. But we've got to then push back on China a little harder, you know, whether it's with our - you know, how we're trading or other areas to find out what we can do to get China to really be serious in regards to North Korea.

BERMAN: Let's talk about things here, shall we, because a lot's been going on in the United States over the last week, the firing of the FBI director, James Comey. Our poll - the NBC News/"Washington Post"/"Wall Street Journal" poll found that 78 percent of Americans would prefer to see the probe led by a special prosecutor rather than inside Congress. Your colleagues in the Senate right now, do you think they should refuse to vote yes on any one to replace James Comey unless the administration agrees to a special prosecutor?

MEEKS: Well, I think - yes, I think that's where we are right now. I think that we've got to restore some integrity into our system. (INAUDIBLE) -

BERMAN: So Democrats will say no - no way, no how?

HARLOW: Anyone? Merrick Garland? Anyone?

MEEKS: I think that we need - you know, at this point, if you look at the consequences of things that took place because clearly what the president looks like he's looking for is someone that's going to be loyal to him and not loyal to the United States of America. And we've got to make sure that we're moving forward to have people to have confidence. You said 79 percent of the people of the United States now saying that they want an independent prosecutor. Well, that's because they want to have integrity in our system. And I would hope that my Republican colleagues, who have been silent - you know, when I think about the numbers of investigations that took place in reference to say Hillary Clinton and with regards to her computer and her e-mails, all of which show - did not have any national security implications to us, that became clear from all of the investigative bodies, and what's taking place now, this is tremendously important to have an independent -

HARLOW: They - they 've never been silent. I mean Lindsey Graham was out speaking over the weekend about how the next appointee shouldn't have any political background. You have Jason Chaffetz calling for an I.G. investigation into the firing of Comey. They haven't been silent. Yes, you could hear more from them, but you called it a constitutional crisis on Twitter over the weekend. What's the constitutional crisis?

[09:45:15] MEEKS: The constitutional - you say they haven't been silent. They haven't been silent. You're talking about one or two isolated members of the Senate. I'm talking about, where's McConnell and the leadership in the Republican Party saying that they are going to now step up to do the things that are necessary, that it is now time to push forward with an independent prosecutor, not just the one senator here or two senators there, but the leadership of the Republican Party, it's time for them to step up and let's have some action in this regard.

BERMAN: They don't see it that way. Not yet, sir.

Congressman Meeks thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate your time.


HARLOW: Nice to have you. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.


[09:50:17] BERMAN: All right, breaking news and a major development for those who follow voting rights in this country. The U.S. Supreme Court just declined to take up a case that a whole lot of people were watching.

We're joined now by CNN Supreme Court reporter Ariane De Vogue.

Ariane, tell us about this case.

ADRIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, as you said, the Supreme Court has declined to take up this North Carolina case. The lower court struck down North Carolina's strict voter I.D. law last summer. It said that at times it targeted African-Americans with an almost surgical precision. North Carolina went to the Supreme Court and said, please, review this decision, and the court said, no, we're not going to do it today.

But there is kind of a however here. Chief Justice John Roberts noted that since the lower court ruled, North Carolina was a bit divided. The governor did not want the Supreme Court to review it. The general assembly did. And Chief Justice John Roberts said, please don't take the fact that we're not weighing in now as anything on the merits. He really seemed to say that the confusion below caused the court to not step in at this juncture. So, the Supreme Court will not step in today, John and Poppy.

HARLOW: That is a big development. Ariane, thank you for the reporting outside of the Supreme Court this morning.

For the first time since the indictment of 18 Penn State students in their son's death, the parents of sophomore Timothy Piazza are speaking out. Piazza died at a fraternity party in what his family is calling a forced drinking hazing ritual. Piazza fell multiple times throughout the night, including twice down a flight of stairs. His final hours were all filmed. His fraternity brothers waited more than 12 hours to get him any help.

BERMAN: Yes, this could be one of the largest indictments related to a hazing death really ever. Timothy's frat brothers were charged on almost 1,000 counts - 1,000 counts, included aggravated assault and involuntary manslaughter.

CNN's Sara Ganim spoke to Timothy's parents. You know, that was released just this morning. A really emotional interview.

SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they're obviously heartbroken. They also were advocating for change. You know, you read through the indictment, it was absolutely heartbreaking. He fell six different times, first down a flight of stairs, then into a railing, then on to a stone floor, then down more stairs, then on to a door and down those 15 stairs again. And, still, it was 12 hours before anyone called for help.

Meanwhile, they were Googling, stepping over him, trying to dress him to make him look better. Those are the charges in the indictment, the allegations they're facing. You know, but the parents are saying, the first step in changing this kind of behavior, this kind of culture, is moving forward with the trial. Take a listen to what they told me.


GANIM: The indictment is horrific for anyone to read, but being his parents reading that, I mean when you read those details --

JIM PIAZZA, FATHER OF TIM PIAZZA: They killed him. They fed him lethal doses of alcohol and they killed him, and then they treated him like roadkill, like a rag doll. They slapped him around. They threw water on him. One kid punched his area that - that it was clearly visible.

EVELYN PIAZZA, MOTHER OF TIM PIAZZA: They said his spleen was shattered.

J. PIAZZA: It was chilling. As a parent, it was chilling. In my mind, it was murder.


J. PIAZZA: They let him suffer for 12 hours. They let him die a very slow death. It's not any way anybody should ever be treated. There were people in that house that knew he was dying. And when they knew that death was imminent the next morning, they waited 42 minutes to call for help while they told people to clean up, cover up the evidence, get rid of it. This wasn't boys being boys, this was criminal activity.

GANIM: What has been the response to you guys from Penn State officials? What have they said to you?

J. PIAZZA: I've had a dialogue with President Barron (ph) to some extent. But, otherwise, Penn State has been fairly silent. No one from Penn State, or the fraternity for that matter, came to any - the wake or the funeral.

GANIM: No one?

J. PIAZZA: No one. No one.

GANIM: None of these fraternity brothers came to the funeral?

J. PIAZZA: No one. No one. No one.

GANIM: And no Penn State officials?


J. PIAZZA: No Penn State officials.

GANIM: You expected a different response from them?

J. PIAZZA: I expected people to care.

GANIM: You feel like they don't?

J. PIAZZA: I feel like they're covering their butt.


GANIM: Penn State has said that a representative from the fraternity - from the university, I'm sorry, could not attend the funeral. Of course, the family telling us they're very upset about that, the fact that they feel like the response from Penn State has not been adequate.

[09:55:05] Now, Penn State says they have put measures into place to try and stop this behavior in the future. The family says those were requirements that they gave to the university. They demanded that those changes be made.

HARLOW: They want something to come of this of meaning. They've lost their son, so what impact will it make going forward for other people's children?

GANIM: This is all they have of the memory of their son at this point.

HARLOW: Yes. Sara Ganim, thanks for the reporting.

BERMAN: All right, Sara, thanks so much.

HARLOW: You can see Sara's entire piece on

All right, we are moments away from President Trump leaving the White House. He's set to speak this morning, this was prescheduled, he'll speaking at a peace officers' memorial at the Capitol, but will he talk about his search for a new FBI director? That's straight ahead.


[10:00:14] BERMAN: All right, good morning, everyone.