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World's biggest cyberattack hits 150 countries and the threat is 'escalating'

15 May, 2017, 02:34 | Author: Paula Vaughn
  • Nissan Sunderland plant hit by 'unprecedented' cyberattack

An global country has hit more than 100,000 organizations in at least 150 countries, according to the European Union's police agency Europol.

"We're in the face of an escalating threat".

Europol, the European Union's police agency, said the onslaught was at "an unprecedented level and will require a complex global investigation to identify the culprits".

Cyber security research experts warned against giving in to criminal syndicates in order to have data unlocked.

"We've never seen anything like this", the head of the European Union's policing agency told Britain's ITV television, calling its reach "unprecedented". "The latest count is over 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries, and those victims, many of those will be businesses, including large corporations".

Germany's national railway says departure and arrival display screens at its stations were affected Friday night, but there was no impact on train services.

The 5,500-strong Renault factory in Douai, northern France, one of the most important vehicle plants in the country, will not open on Monday due to the attack, sources told AFP.

The virus took control of users' files, demanding payments; Russian Federation and the United Kingdom were among the worst-hit countries.

A BBC analysis found people paid the hackers £22,080 in Bitcoin so far.

Affected users can restore their files from backups, if they have them, or pay the ransom; otherwise they risk losing their data entirely.

Avast said the majority of the attacks targeted Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan - though exactly which computers in those areas were targeted remains fuzzy.

Investigators are working to track down those responsible for the ransomware used on Friday, known as Wanna Decryptor or WannaCry.

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Friday's wave of cyberattacks apparently exploited a flaw exposed in documents leaked from the US National Security Agency.

Microsoft released fixes for the vulnerability in March, but computers that didn't run the update were subject to the ransom attack.

Microsoft said on Friday it would roll out the update to users of older operating systems "that no longer receive mainstream support", such Windows XP (which the NHS still largely uses), Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003.

NHS Digital said that 4.7 per cent of devices within the NHS use Windows XP, with the figure continuing to decrease.

"Paying the ransom does not guarantee the encrypted files will be released", the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's computer emergency-response team said.

Operations and appointments were cancelled and ambulances diverted as hospital trusts became infected by a "ransomware" attack demanding payment to regain access to vital medical records.

It demands users pay United States dollars 300 worth of cryptocurrency Bitcoin to retrieve their files, though it warns that the payment will be raised after a certain amount of time.

The malware spread quickly on Friday, with medical staff in the United Kingdom reportedly seeing computers go down "one by one".

An Indian-origin doctor based in London had warned against the cyber-hack of the NHS just days before it crippled the country's network.

These hackers "have caused enormous amounts of disruption- probably the biggest ransomware cyberattack in history", said Graham Cluley, a veteran of the anti-virus industry in Oxford, England.

"This is a provisional figure of the number of infected computers and could rise significantly over the coming days", she said.

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