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Cyber attack hit 200000 victims across 150 countries, says Europol chief
May 30 2017, 07:25 | Guillermo Bowen
The'Wannacry ransomware attack
Experts say the spread of the virus had been stymied by a security researcher in the United Kingdom hackers have issued new versions of the virus that cyber security organizations are actively trying to counter and stamp out.
United States package delivery giant FedEx, European auto factories, Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, Britain's health service and Germany's Deutsche Bahn rail network were among those hit.
But the researcher's actions may have saved companies and governments millions of dollars and slowed the outbreak before computers in the U.S. were more widely affected.
"Defence Minister Michael Fallon told the BBC that British authorities are spending more than $60 million on safeguarding computer systems", at the NHS, Marx adds.
"Expect to hear a lot more about this tomorrow morning when users are back in their offices and might fall for phishing emails" or other as yet unconfirmed ways the worm may propagate, said Christian Karam, a Singapore-based security researcher.
Leading cyber security expert Professor Bill Buchanan said: "For some reason we have underinvested in IT in the NHS".
The most disruptive attacks were reported in the United Kingdom, where hospitals and clinics were forced to turn away patients after losing access to computers. They were forced to reschedule patients, and people were warned to stay away from emergency rooms if possible. "At this stage, we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed".
"This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem", he said.
"Even if a fresh attack does not materialise on Monday, we should expect it soon afterwards", she said. "Everything is fully computerised".
The ransomware exploited a vulnerability that has been patched in updates of recent versions of Windows since March.
Some privacy advocates say that if the NSA had disclosed the vulnerability when it was first discovered, the outbreak may have been prevented. NHS Grampian could only say it had been applied to "the majority" of servers.
Now that this "WannaCry" malware is out there, the world's computer systems are vulnerable to a degree they haven't been before, unless people everywhere move quickly to install Microsoft's security patches.
WannaCry or WannaCrypt, the global ransomware attack, has affected over 150 countries till date.
You'll immediately know whether you're infected - you'll be greeted by a popup screen saying "Ooops, your important files are encrypted". Instead, the computer was broken down and rebuilt by IT staff.
Meanwhile health authorities are racing to upgrade security software amid fears hackers could exploit the same vulnerability with a new virus.
He insisted any failure to apply Microsoft's fix was "negligence" if it had been the cause.
There's been so much noise regarding the "WannaCry" ransomware that it can be hard to get a straight answer about what it does and how to fix (or avoid) it. "But there are so many things to patch. You need to be doing that in a few days - especially with something like the NHS". "There were the same attacks applied to Nissan on Friday and in other areas of the economy and indeed around the world", Fallon said. No person or group has stepped forward to claim responsibility for the attack.
He said Russian Federation and India were hit particularly hard, largely because Microsoft's Windows XP - one of the operating systems most at risk - was still widely used there.
Europol, the European Union's police agency, said "a complex global investigation" would be required to identify the culprits.
The initial ransomware attack, known as "WannaCry", paralyzed computers that run Britain's hospital network, Germany's national railway and scores of other companies and government agencies worldwide in what was believed to be the biggest online extortion scheme ever recorded.