Cyberattack targets 200000 victims in over 150 countries, Europol chief says

Robyn Ryan
May 15, 2017

The researcher, who is known as MalwareTech, registered a domain name to track the virus, unintentionally halting it in the process.

Russian Federation appeared to be the hardest hit, according to security experts, with the country's interior ministry confirming it was struck.

The paper quoted the researcher as saying: "This is not over".

Governments and private security firms said on Saturday that they expected hackers to tweak the malicious code used in Friday's attack, restoring the ability to self-replicate.

"Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP three years ago, hoping they would move to newer versions of the operating system", Al Jazeera's technology editor, Tarek Bazley, said.

Russia's interior ministry said some of its computers had been hit, while the country's banking system was also attacked, although no problems were detected, as was the railway system.

The worldwide cyberextortion attack has prompted Microsoft to take the unusual step of making security fixes available for older Windows system.

The attack held hospitals and other entities hostage by freezing computers, encrypting data and demanding money through online bitcoin payments.

The most disruptive attacks were reported in the United Kingdom, where hospitals and clinics were forced to turn away patients after losing access to computers.

Symantec, a cybersecurity company, forecast infections so far would cost tens of millions of dollars, mostly from cleaning corporate networks.

Now that this "WannaCry" malware is out there, the world's computer systems are vulnerable to a degree they haven't been before, unless people everywhere move quickly to install Microsoft's security patches.

France's carmaker Renault was forced to stop production at a number of sites.

Europol, the European Union's police agency, said the onslaught was at "an unprecedented level and will require a complex global investigation to identify the culprits".

Britain's home secretary said one in five of 248 National Health Service groups had been hit.

Friday's wave of cyber-attacks has hit 200,000 targets in at least 150 countries, the head of the European Union's police agency said, adding he feared that number would grow when many people return to work on Monday.

It was believed to the biggest attack of its kind ever recorded.

Deutsche Bahn: The German railway company told CNNMoney that due to the attack "passenger information displays in some stations were inoperative" as were "some ticket machines". The company said the virus has been localized and "technical work is underway to destroy it and update the antivirus protection".

Cyber extortionists tricked victims into opening malicious malware attachments to spam emails that appeared to contain invoices, job offers, security warnings and other legitimate files.

Described as the greatest cyber ransom assault, the attack started on Friday affecting state agencies and important companies around the globe including Russian banks, British hospitals in addition to FedEx as well as European auto factories.

Wainwright's televised comments followed a statement Saturday in which Europol cited the unprecedented scale of the attack and said that its European Cybercrime Center, known as EC3, was "working closely with affected countries cybercrime units and key industry partners to mitigate the threat and assist victims".

National Health Service: At least sixteen NHS organizations have been hit, according to NHS Digital.

Other reports by VideoGamingPros

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