Published: Sun, May 14, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Ransomware cyber attack targeting more than 100 courntries


Rudd said the attack was not specifically targeted at Britain's health service. Two security firms-Kaspersky Lab and Avast-said they had identified the malicious software behind the attack in over 70 countries, although both said the attack had hit Russian Federation the hardest. The attack froze computers at hospitals across the country, with some canceling all routine procedures. Health systems around the world will be on high alert after the debilitating attack left hospitals in the United Kingdom scrambling to minimize the damage.

The Guardian newspaper reported Saturday that the 22-year-old Britain-based researcher, identified online only as MalwareTech, found that the software's spread could be stopped by registering a garbled domain name.

Although the US seems minimally affected at least for now, the incident shows how quickly and severely a cyber attack can cause chaos for hospitals. Most of the affected hospitals were in England, but several facilities in Scotland also reported being hit.

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 global investigation to identify the culprits".

French carmaker Renault's assembly plant in Slovenia halted production after it was targeted.

The Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda says the attack Friday affected the Windows operating system of employees' computers in several companies.

The global cyberattack has hit Brazil's social security system, forcing it to disconnect computers and cancel public access to the agency.

A spokesman for the Russian Health Ministry, Nikita Odintsov, said on Twitter that the cyberattacks on his ministry were "effectively repelled". Radio Slovenia said Saturday the Revoz factory in the southeastern town of Novo Mesto stopped working on Friday evening to stop the malware from spreading.

After an emergency government meeting Saturday in London, Britain's home secretary said one in five of 248 National Health Service groups had been hit. Telecoms giant Telefonica said in a statement that it was aware of a "cybersecurity incident" but that clients and services had not been affected.

He and others say the malware takes advantage of an exploit purportedly identified by the National Security Agency.

Nations fight cyberattack; United Kingdom focuses on hospitals
The hacking tool, a new strain of " WannaCry " ransomware, is believed to have been developed by the US National Security Agency. Wana encrypts files using the AES-128 cipher and demands a bitcoin ransom that increases as time passes on, according to Meyers.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said there was no evidence that patient data had been compromised in the attack. The exploit was leaked last month as part of an arsenal of NSA spy tools.

A young cybersecurity researcher has been credited with helping to halt the ransomware's spread by accidentally activating a so-called "kill switch" in the malicious software.

A screenshot of the warning screen from a purported ransomware attack, as captured by a computer user in Taiwan, is seen on laptop in Beijing, Saturday, May 13, 2017.

The security loopholes were disclosed several weeks ago by the group The Shadow Brokers.

The kill switch couldn't help those already infected, however. Microsoft swiftly announced that it had already issued software "patches" to fix those holes, but many users haven't yet installed updates or still use older versions of Windows.

On Friday, 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. Dr Krishna Chinthapalli, a neurology registrar atthe National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, had warned that an increasing number of hospitals could be shut down by ransomeware attacks inan article on the vulnerability of the NHS network in the "British Medical Journal" on Wednesday, two days before the major cyberhack.

The malware targets a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows, which released a patch in March that fixes the security problem.

In Russia, government agencies insisted that all attacks had been resolved.

This malware is being sent through emailing in the form of encrypted compressed file.

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. Deutsche Bahn said it deployed extra staff to busy stations to provide customer information, and recommended that passengers check its website or app for information on their connections.

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