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Dozens of countries struck by cyberattack

14 May 2017

The ransomware, which has spread globally, has been infecting computers by exploiting a Windows vulnerability involving the Server Message Block protocol, a file-sharing feature. It initially said 16 NHS organizations had reported being hit, and more reports came in as the day went on.

Symantec predicted infections so far would cost tens of millions of dollars, mostly from cleaning corporate networks.

"Obviously, they want those tools in order to spy on people of interest, on other countries, to conduct surveillance", Cluley said.

Microsoft has released patches for WannaCrypt for all versions of its Windows Operating System.

While I'm a bit mixed on blaming customers for this issue, it's interesting that WannaCrypt doesn't actually spread all that quickly, and it doesn't use social networking to trick users into doing something stupid. It was reportedly distributed by the Shadow Brokers, which claimed to have hacked an NSA-linked team of hackers last August. The agency has not responded to requests for comment.

The Moscow-based Internet security company Kaspersky Lab said Friday that its security software - one of several major packages available to users worldwide - had detected "more than 45,000 attacks of the WannaCry ransomware in 74 countries around the world, mostly in Russian Federation", using another name for the program.

Also badly hit was Britain's National Health Service, which declared a "major incident" after the attack, which forced some hospitals to divert ambulances and scrap operations.

A sum of $300 is a fairly low ransom when compared to some previous attacks, such as the one that took place in June at the University of Calgary, which agreed to pay almost $16,000 in bitcoin to an unknown group of hackers. "So they no longer get the security updates they should be".

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Guillaume Poupard, head of France's national cyber security agency, told Reuters he is concerned infections could surge again on Monday, when workers return to the office and turn on computers.

If your computer has been affected, there's no guarantee that paying the ransom will restore it, Gazeley said.

Security software maker Avast said it had observed 126,534 ransomware infections in 99 countries, with Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan the top targets.

Its ransom demands start at $300 and increase after two hours to $400, $500 and then $600, said Kurt Baumgartner, a security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

So criminals turned to targeted attacks instead to stay below the radar.

Cyber extortionists tricked victims into opening malicious malware attachments to spam emails that appeared to contain invoices, job offers, security warnings and other legitimate files.

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd-who was chairing a government emergency security meeting Saturday in response to the attack-said 45 public health organizations were hit, though she stressed that no patient data had been stolen.

Germany's Deutsche Bahn computers were also impacted, with the company reporting on Saturday morning that display panels in the stations were affected.

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In Asia, some hospitals, schools, universities and other institutions were affected, though the full extent of the damage is not yet known due to the weekend.

"Today, it happened to 10,000 computers", Eisen said.

Indeed, while FedEx Corp. reported that its Windows computers were "experiencing interference" from malware — it wouldn't say if it had been hit by the ransomware — other impacts in the United States of America were not readily apparent on Saturday.

Telecommunications company Telefonica was among many targets in Spain.

In a statement, Kaspersky Labs said it was "trying to determine whether it is possible to decrypt data locked in the attack - with the aim of developing a decryption tool as soon as possible".

In a statement Saturday, Europol's European Cybercrime Centre, known as EC3, said the attack "is at an unprecedented level and will require a complex worldwide investigation to identify the culprits".

The attack appears to have been thwarted by private cybersecurity researchers who identified and triggered the malware's "kill switch", which halted the attacks before it spread throughout US networks, a senior USA intelligence official confirmed, but it is unclear whether, the official said, a modified attack will soon be launched.

The tech expert who stopped the attack in its tracks has identified Ireland as one of the affected countries.

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The statement said there were thousands of cyberattacks daily "and Romania is no exception".