Massive ransomware cyber-attack hits almost 100 countries around the world


13 May, 2017

Experts have been working round-the-clock to restore IT systems of Britain's National Health Service (NHS) after they were hit by the large-scale cyber-hack by an worldwide criminal gang that wreaked havoc around the globe.

The US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (USCRT) under the Department of Homeland Security said it has received multiple reports of WannaCry ransomware infections in many countries around the world.

Computers of companies such as shipper FedEx and government services such as Britain's National Health Service were inflected by "ransomware" demanding payments of as much as Dollars 600 in Bitcoin currency to restore access and scrambling data, Reuters reported.

Experts said the malware enters companies and organizations when employees click on email attachments, then spreads quickly internally when employees share documents and other files.

"It's a very broad spread", Jakobsson said, noting that the ransom demand is "relatively small".

"Fortunately, the hospital's daily data backup had just been completed".

Chris Wysopal of the software security firm Veracode said criminal organizations probably were behind the attack, given how quickly the malware spread.

"This event should serve as a global wake-up call the means of delivery and the delivered effect is unprecedented", Rich Barger, the director of threat research at security firm Splunk, said in a separate statement.

Shortly after that disclosure, Microsoft announced it had already issued software "patches" for those holes.

Many companies and individuals have not installed the fixes yet or are using older versions of Windows that Microsoft no longer supports and did not fix.

By Kaspersky Lab's count, the malware struck at least 74 countries.

In addition to Russian Federation, the biggest targets appeared to be Ukraine and India, nations where it is common to find older, unpatched versions of Windows in use, according to the security firm.

- Hampshire Hospitals (@HHFTnhs) May 13, 2017Attack affected x-ray facilities and computers linked to CT scanners at Basingstoke.

However, there have been some reports of ambulances being diverted from affected hospitals. Doctors' practices and pharmacies reported similar problems.

Tom Griffiths, who was at the hospital for chemotherapy, said several cancer patients had to be sent home because their records or blood work couldn't be accessed.

The cyberattack was initially believed to target only hospitals in the United Kingdom, but it turned out to be a worldwide attack, British Prime Minister Theresa May said.

In Spain, the attacks did not disrupt the provision of services or networks operations of the victims, the government said in a statement.

Ms Rudd said Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had told health trusts to upgrade their software and majority had.

Less was known about the scope of the attacks in Spain and Portugal, which affected companies like Telefonica, a global broadband and telecommunications company.

Krishna Chinthapalli, a doctor at Britain's National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery who wrote a paper on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal, warned that British hospitals' old operating systems and confidential patient information made them an ideal target for blackmailers.

In Scotland, 11 geographical health boards, including the ambulance service and acute hospital sites, saw their IT networks infected, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has chaired a resilience meeting on the issue.

"Looking at the trends, it was going to happen", he said.

"CQC (Care Quality Commission) does do cyber-checks on the NHS trusts, on hospitals when they do their visits, and they will be advising NHS trusts to move to modernise their platforms and I think that after this experience, I would expect them all to move forward with modernising".

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