Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Former GCHQ chief blames Microsoft for world's biggest ever cyber attack

More than 200,000 systems in 150 countries have reportedly been affected, including British hospitals and Germany's national railway.

Spanish telco giant Telefonica and United States delivery service FedEx were among the businesses affected.

Carmaker Renault said one of its French plants, which employs 3,500 people, wasn't reopening Monday as a "preventative step" while technicians deal with the aftermath of the attack.

Government offices, banks and hospitals around the world are bracing themselves for a possible repeat of Friday's global cyber attack, while tech giant Microsoft pinned blame on the USA government for not disclosing more software vulnerabilities.

The NHS was among hundreds of organisations affected around the world, with 47 trusts hit.

Security experts have warned that another attack is imminent, most likely on Monday, and could be unstoppable.

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The Japan Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center, a nonprofit providing support for computer attacks, said 2,000 computers at 600 locations in Japan were reported affected so far. But computers and networks that didn't update their systems remained at risk.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand government communications security bureau said it had not received any reports of the malware infection.

Friday's attack was the latest in the growing menace of ransomware in which hackers deliver files to computers that automatically encrypt their data, making it unusable until a ransom is paid.

"The numbers are still going up", Wainwright said. Microsoft patched their weak spot last March but those that didn't update their software were vulnerable to the hack. Brad Smith criticized US intelligence agencies, including the CIA and National Security Agency, for "stockpiling" software code that can be used by hackers.

"Right now, just about every IT department has been working all weekend rolling this out", said Dan Wire, spokesman at Fireeye Security.

Magid added that there should be more cooperation to prevent future attacks: "There needs to be better sharing of information between government and the private sector, especially tech companies, and obviously people need to be educated".

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