Cyber attack hits 200000 in at least 150 countries: Europol

Evrard Martin
Mai 16, 2017

Europol, the European Union's police agency, says the worldwide "ransomware" cyberattack has so far hit more than 100,000 organizations in at least 150 countries.

Once a single computer in a network is infected with WannaCry, the programme looks for other vulnerable computers on the network and infects them as well.

Hospitals, companies, universities and governments across almost 100 countries were hounded by a cyberattack that locked computers and demanded ransom.

Microsoft took aim at the USA government for "stockpiling" software code that was used by unknown hackers to launch the attacks.

Oliver Gower, of the National Crime Agency, said: "Cyber criminals may believe they are anonymous but we will use all the tools at our disposal to bring them to justice".

SPAIN - The attack hit Spain's Telefonica, a global broadband and telecommunications company.

"An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen", attorney Brad Smith wrote on Microsoft's blog.

On Saturday, a cyber security researcher tweeting as MalwareTechBlog, said he had accidentally discovered a "kill switch" that could prevent the spread of the ransomware. It said less than 1% of computers were affected, and that the virus was now "localized" and being destroyed. "We haven't fully dodged this bullet at all until we're patched against the vulnerability itself".

Friday's attack was the latest in the growing menace of ransomware in which hackers deliver files to computers that automatically encrypt their data, making it unusable until a ransom is paid.

Mr Wainwright said Europol was working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to track down those responsible and said it was likely more than one person was behind the attack.

A spokesman said: "Like many organisations around the world, some Nissan entities were recently targeted by a ransomware attack".

"At the moment we are in the face of an escalating threat, the numbers are going up, I am anxious about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn their machines on Monday morning". The technology has been "increasingly rampant since 2014", the study says, though the concept goes back to 1989, "when PC-locking malcode was snail-mailed to victims on floppy disks".

Britain's home secretary said the "ransomware" attack hit one in five of 248 National Health Service groups, forcing hospitals to cancel or delay treatments for thousands of patients - even some with serious aliments like cancer.

Students at universities in China were locked out of their work, including dissertations and thesis papers, according to Chinese media and reported by The Associated Press.

"Expect to hear a lot more about this tomorrow morning when users are back in their offices and might fall for phishing e-mails" or other as yet unconfirmed ways the worm may propagate, said Singapore- based security researcher Christian Karam. "The bad guys are always one step ahead".

He said it was too early to say who is behind the onslaught and what their motivation was. So far, he said, not many people have paid the ransom demanded by the malware.

A British cyber whiz was hailed an "accidental hero" after he registered a domain name that unexpectedly stopped the spread of the virus, which exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows software.

The ransomware is spread by taking advantage of a Windows vulnerability that Microsoft released a security patch for in March.

Technical staff are scrambling to patch computers and restore infected ones, amid fears that the ransomware worm that stopped auto factories, hospitals, shops and schools last Friday could wreak fresh havoc today when employees log back on. The other is to disable a type of software that connects computers to printers and faxes, which the virus exploits, O'Leary added. Many of those victims will be businesses, including large corporations.

"It's one of those things, in a flawless world, if people were up to date on the patches, this wouldn't be a problem", O'Leary said. The patch lists can be ginormous. "It won't be too late as long as they're not infected".

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