200000 cyberattack victims in 150-plus states - Europol

Tabitha Dunn
May 16, 2017

"The recent attack is at an unprecedented level and will require a complex worldwide investigation to identify the culprits", Europol said in a statement.

"Looking at the trends, it was going to happen", he said.

The code for the ransomware unleashed Friday remains freely available on the internet, experts said, so those behind the WannaCry attack - also known as WanaCryptor 2.0 and a variety of other names - could launch new strikes in coming days or weeks. His concerns were echoed by James Clapper, former director of national intelligence under President Barack Obama.

Cyber security experts said the spread of the worm dubbed WannaCry - "ransomware" that locked up more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries - had slowed but that the respite might only be brief amid fears it could cause new havoc on Monday when employees return to work.

Given the attack's widespread nature, even such a small sum would stack up quickly, though few victims seem to be paying up so far.

Pictures posted on social media showed screens of NHS computers with images demanding payment of $300 (AU$409) in Bitcoin, saying: "Oops, your files have been encrypted!"

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High-profile victims include hospitals in Britain, the Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, French carmaker Renault, US package delivery company FedEx, Russia's interior ministry and the German rail operator Deutsche Bahn. Had it not been for a young British cybersecurity researcher's accidental discovery of a so-called "kill switch", the malicious software likely would have spread much farther and faster.

Hospitals often have a wide and somewhat chaotic collection of software, some of which will be very old but still seen as vital by those who use it. The server operates as a "sinkhole" to collect information about malware - and in Friday's case kept the malware from escaping.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said there was no evidence patient data had been compro-mised and added that the attack had not specifically targeted the National Health Service.

"It's quite an easy change to make, to bypass the way we stopped it", MalwareTech, who uses an alias, told the Associated Press.

'There have also been other reports made to our online cyber security network and the difficulty is of course there are literally hundres of instances of ransomware in Australia each week and so we are now seeking to confirm whether these are examples of the particular ransomware that has cause so much havoc for example in the United Kingdom'. Business take longer to install critical updates and patches, often to avoid impacting any legacy software they are running. "You're only safe if you patch ASAP", he wrote on Twitter. Experts say this vulnerability has been understood among experts for months, yet too many organisations either failed to take it seriously or chose not to share what they'd found. These patches work for updated versions only and hence the users were advised to update their systems.

Australian authorities have been monitoring the situation in New Zealand, which has an earlier time zone, to determine whether more businesses will be compromised. "In short, it has a lot of computers and at least some of them weren't able to withstand an attack like this". "But there's clearly some culpability on the part of the United States intelligence services".

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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