Hackers exploit stolen United States spy agency tool to launch global cyberattack

Ken Copeland
May 13, 2017

Extortionist hackers who may be using leaked computer exploits from the U.S. National Security Agency infiltrated computers in dozens of countries in a fast-spreading attack that forced British hospitals to turn away patients and breached systems at Spain's Telefonica SA and organizations from Russian Federation to Taiwan.

Authorities in the countries said the attack was conducted using "ransomware" - malicious software that infects machines, locks them up by encrypting data and demands a ransom to restore access.

A global cyber attack leveraging hacking tools believed to have been developed by the US National Security Agency has infected tens of thousands of computers in almost 100 countries, disrupting Britain's health system and global shipper FedEx.

A statement from NHS Digital released earlier in the day said at least 16 hospitals had been affected, but there was no evidence that patient data had been accessed.

Jakub Kroustek of Avast said on Twitter the security firm had detected "36,000 detections of #WannaCry (aka #WanaCypt0r aka #WCry) #ransomware so far".

A worldwide ransomware campaign using a stolen NSA hacking tool is now underway, consisting of more than 45,000 attacks in 74 countries, including the crippling of Britain's main healthcare system, Spain's Telefonica and Russia's MegaFon, according to global media reports and Kaspersky Lab.

"Purported screenshots showed the cyber attacker asking for "$300 worth of bitcoin", a form of digital currency, to be sent to a certain online address.

Iberdrola and Gas Natural, along with Vodafone's unit in Spain, asked staff to turn off computers or cut off internet access in case they had been compromised, representatives from the firms said. "IT companies maintaining hospital networks can also be found negligent or at least careless, as usually a properly maintained and duly updated system is immune to the vast majority of ransomware". "No computers are now working", they said, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to press. The majority are targeted at Russian Federation, the Ukraine and Taiwan but have also hit multiple other countries.

The Spanish government said several companies had been targeted in ransomware cyberattack that affected the Windows operating system of employees' computers.

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It had to cancel routine appointments and ambulances were being diverted to neighboring hospitals, Barts said.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was "working closely" with the NHS and that they will protect patient safety.

"It's an global attack and a number of countries and organizations have been affected", she said.

Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which delivers the county's mental health services, has tweeted to say it is also having problems with its phone lines and emails. On Friday, a spokesman said its engineers had provided additional detection and protection services against the WannaCry malware and that it was working with customers to provide additional assistance. Several British hospitals say they are h.

Spain's Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda confirms the intrusion, describing it as "punctual attacks".

He said they believed it got onto their computers via the Lancashire NHS network and had affected their patient records system, called EMIS.

Britain's National Health Service is a source of pride for many Britons but faces substantial budget issues and has had previous problems with its huge IT system.

"Otherwise, such an attack can be technically un-investigable", the statement said. They said the system was down and that they can not transfer anyone till the computer system was back up so he is still in the theatre.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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