At least 100000 groups in 150 countries hit by ransomware in cyberattack

How a ransomware attack can affect emergency services

The cyberattack paralyzed computers that run Britain's hospital network, Germany's national railway and scores of other companies and government agencies worldwide.

Since it emerged last Friday (12 May) and ripped through Russian Federation, south-east Asia and most of Europe, major bodies such as the NHS, Renault, Telefónica and MegaFon have been battling to stay up and running.

In the United Kingdom, hospitals were crippled by the cyberattack, which forced operations to be canceled and ambulances to be diverted.

Ryan Kalember, senior vice president at Proofpoint Inc., said the version with no kill switch was able to spread but it contained a flaw that wouldn't allow it to take over a computer and demand ransom to unlock files.

In a blog post, the US tech giant recalled that it had published an update in March to address the weakness exploited in Friday's attacks, a security flaw exposed in documents leaked from the US National Security Agency.

Economic experts offered differing views on how much the attack, and associated computer outages, would cost businesses and governments.

The Finnish computer security firm F-Secure called the problem spreading around the world "the biggest ransomware outbreak in history". "Most folks that have paid up appear to have paid the initial $300 in the first few hours".

The UK's National Health Service (NHS) was among the hardest hit and it has been reported that the IT systems of about 40 NHS organizations have been affected by this ransomware attack. Spanish telecom company Telefónica was also hit with the ransomware. The western MI resident said he noticed the authors of the malware had left in a feature known as a kill switch.

Although a temporary fix earlier slowed the infection rate, the attackers had now released a new version of the virus, he said. The effects were felt across the globe, with Russia's Interior Ministry and companies including Spain's Telefonica, FedEx Corp.in the US and French carmaker Renault all reporting disruptions.

In Japan, a spokesman for conglomerate Hitachi said on Monday that the company's computer networks were "unstable", crippling its email systems.

The massive ransomware attacks that started late Friday have locked people out of their computers and demanded hundreds of dollars from the users before they could regain control.

How does WannaCry work and what can we do to protect ourselves?

Beaumont examined a sample of the ransomware used to target NHS and confirmed it was the same used to target Telefónica. "So long as the domain isn't revoked, this particular strain will no longer cause harm, but patch your systems ASAP as they will try again".

But the patches won't do any good for machines that have already been hit.

Spanish firm Telefonica, French automaker Renault, the US -based delivery service FedEx and the German railway Deutsche Bahn were among those affected. The ransomware is automatically scanning for computers it can infect whenever it loads itself onto a new machine. Hackers will sometimes encourage you to keep your computer on and linked to the network, but don't be fooled.

"It has a "hunter" module, which seeks out PCs on internal networks", Beaumont said.

Both joined security officials in urging organizations to protect themselves by installing security fixes right away, running antivirus software and backing up data elsewhere.

He argued there should be "a new requirement for governments to report vulnerabilities to vendors, rather than stockpile, sell, or exploit them".

As its modus operandi, the Wannacry/ WannaCrypt Ransomware drops user manuals in - Chinese, Indonesian, French, Vietnamese, Turkish, Swedish, Finnish, Greek, Danish, Korean, Croatia, Polish. Here's how to turn automatic updates on.

NSA does not discuss its capabilities, and some computer experts say the MS17-010 exploit was developed by unknown parties using the name Equation Group (which may also be linked to NSA).

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