Published: Sun, May 14, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

United Kingdom restoring systems after cyberattack

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said lessons may need to be learned in the wake of the breach, which has affected NHS services across England and Scotland, forcing hospitals to cancel and delay treatment.

Patients of the state-funded country-wide service are facing days of chaos as appointments and surgeries were cancelled after almost 45 NHS organisations from London to Scotland were hit in the "ransomware" attack on Friday.

Britain's National Cyber Security Centre and its National Crime Agency were looking into the United Kingdom incidents, which disrupted care at National Health Service facilities, forcing ambulances to divert and hospitals to postpone operations.

Consumers who have up-to-date software are protected from this ransomware.

Security researchers with Kaspersky Lab have recorded more than 45,000 attacks in 99 countries, including the UK, Russia, Ukraine, India, China, Italy, and Egypt.

Experts have been working to disrupt the unprecedented attack, which is thought to have affected industries across 100 countries, including the USA and Russian Federation.

And all this may be just a taste of what's coming, a leading cyber security expert warned. "This is not targeted at the NHS, it's an global attack and a number of countries and organizations have been affected".

The attack was a form of ransomware that locks up computer systems and prevents access to data or systems until a payment is made. But it appears to be "low-level" stuff, Eisen said Saturday, given the amount of ransom demanded - $300 at first, rising to $600 before it destroys files hours later.

Russia's largest bank Sberbank said its systems "detected in time attempts to penetrate bank infrastructure". This is not the serious stuff yet. However, this is too much to ask for since everything happened haphazardly. "I really want to grab the person who done this today and give him a picture of how this is affecting my life", he said. "There's no barrier to do it tomorrow to 100 million computers".

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

Attackers, using a tool allegedly stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency, took advantage of flaws in Microsoft Windows systems to spread malware around the world on Friday.

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The ransomware is a type of malicious software that infects a computer and restricts users' access to it until a ransom is paid to unlock it.

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.

The researcher, tweeting as @MalwareTechBlog, said that the discovery was accidental, but that registering a domain name used by the malware stops it from spreading.

"Like many other companies, FedEx is experiencing interference with some of our Windows-based systems caused by malware". Other impacts in the US were not readily apparent on Saturday. Computers already affected will not be helped by the solution. Short of paying, options for these individuals and companies are usually limited to recovering data files from a backup, if available, or living without them. The exploit was leaked last month as part of a trove of US National Security Agency spy tools.

Microsoft released a patch to fix the problem in March, but computer systems that did not install the update remain vulnerable.

"This is a virus that attacked Windows platforms".

Krishna Chinthapalli, a doctor at Britain's National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery who wrote a paper on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal, said many British hospitals still use Windows XP software, introduced in 2001.

Spain said Friday that many companies, including the telecommunications giant Telefonica, were also dealing with ransomware attacks, according to Reuters.

"We are aware that a number of NHS organizations have reported that they have suffered from a ransomware attack", said UK Prime Minister Theresa May in a statement.

Germany's national railway said Saturday departure and arrival display screens at its train stations were affected, but there was no impact on actual train services. Radio Slovenia said Saturday the Revoz factory in the southeastern town of Novo Mesto stopped working Friday evening to stop the malware from spreading. Portugal Telecom was also hit by a cyberattack that did not impact its services.

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