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Cyber attack hits China government, schools

19 May 2017

After Friday's attack took advantage of unpatched vulnerabilities in Microsoft's older Windows operating systems, the US-based software giant slammed governments late Sunday for failing to prepare, saying the attack should be a "wake-up call" to them.

The NHS has been declared "open for business" but some hospitals are still suffering disruption caused by the crippling ransomware attack.

"The attack targeted machines that use older software (Windows XP, Windows 2003, Windows 8) and US companies tend to adopt modern systems on a more regular basis", said Kevin O'Brien, chief executive officer of GreatHorn, a Boston-based security company.

The NHS has provided an update about planned treatment and outpatient appointments following the ransomware attack on its IT systems.

A young British cyber security expert who thwarted many attacks was hailed as a hero after he triggered a "kill switch" by buying and activating a domain that the malware had been programmed to connect infected computers to.

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Hundreds of thousands of computers were infected with WannaCry ransomware in over 150 countries worldwide over the weekend. While this kind of hack is alarming enough to make any tech enthusiast move to a shack in the woods, it's important to remember that knowledge, even in these kinds of unsettling scenarios, is power.

The attack has not only put patients' lives at risk, but also highlighted the clear-cut and scary reality about IT infrastructure in healthcare sector.

'Because this would be nowhere near the global spread and depth of attack if people had run the updates that Microsoft had provided in March'.

Riverbank IT Management managing director Malcolm Newdick said: "Last week's ransomware attack was the most unsafe malware attack we have seen". Security firms say Russian Federation was the country that was hit the hardest.

Kaspersky said it was seeking to develop a decryption tool "as soon as possible".

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- How much ransom was asked?

Payment is demanded within three days or the price is doubled, and if none is received within seven days, the files will be deleted, according to the screen message.

It gave few details on the extent of any damage, however, and China's government has said little about the situation.

Experts advise people not to pay, as it would only encourage the attackers, there is no guarantee that they will unblock files, and may result in them gaining access to victims' bank details.

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