Published: Tue, May 16, 2017
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Operations and appointments cancelled at some Yorkshire hospitals — NHS cyber attacks


WannaCrypt's victims included the National Health Service, Spain's Telefónica and numerous other organisations across the world.

WannaCry affected an exploit in the Windows XP operating system on PCs, and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) shortly sent out a fix for the security flaw.

The attack held users hostage by freezing their computers, popping up a red screen with the words, "Oops, your files have been encrypted!" and demanding money through online bitcoin payment - $300 at first, rising to $600 before it destroys files hours later.

Victims have been advised by security experts not to pay up.

Wainwright said the attack was indiscriminate, fast-spreading and unique, because the ransomware was being used in combination with a worm, which means the infection of one computer automatically could spread it through a whole network.

European policing and security agencies said the fallout from a ransomware attack that has already crippled more than 200,000 computers around the world could deepen as people return for another work week.

Electronics giant Hitachi admitted on Monday that its in-house computer system may have been affected, including at its head office in Tokyo.

Becky Pinkard, from Digital Shadows, a UK-based cyber-security firm, told AFP news agency that it would be easy for the initial attackers or "copy-cat authors" to change the virus code so it is hard to guard against.

The Windows software was installed on the submarines "to save money rather than meet the cost of a tailored system", says The Guardian, but nuclear subs "have been designed for nearly complete isolation when at sea", making them nearly impossible to hack.

In a blog post, he said: "An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen".

The indiscriminate attack began Friday and struck banks, hospitals and government agencies, exploiting known vulnerabilities in older Microsoft computer operating systems.

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Carmaker Renault said one of its French plants, which employs 3,500 people, wasn't reopening Monday as a "preventative step".

Experts think it unlikely to have been one person, with criminally minded cyber crime syndicates nowadays going underground and using ever more sophisticated encryption to hide their activities.

"Movies are played by a separate server", the official said, adding "we plan to normalize the situation as soon as possible".

While many trusts across Yorkshire were unaffected, some were forced to suspend internet access to staff and block incoming external emails until software patches, which update a computers' immunity' were deployed. Now, three years since the last public update, Windows XP has again been patched to close the WannaCry vulnerability.

At the moment, we are in the face of an escalating threat.

"Once they're let out of the lamp, genies of this kind, especially those created by intelligence services, can later do damage to their authors and creators", he said.

"Even if a fresh attack does not materialise on Monday, we should expect it soon afterwards", she said.

Winchester and Andover have so far not been affected.

A source familiar with the matter said the ministry did not lose any information in the attacks.

Ciaran Martin, chief executive of the U.K.'s National Cyber Security Centre, has warned that more computers could be infected Monday as doctors' practices re-opened after the weekend.

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