Global extortion cyberattack hits dozens of nations

Laverne Mann
May 13, 2017

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

The ransomware - dubbed Wanna Cry - demanded payments between $300 (around Rs 19,000) and $600 (around Rs 39,000) in bitcoin to unlock data on a single system, news agency Reuters reported.

A global cyberattack leveraging hacking tools widely believed by researchers to have been developed by the US National Security Agency hit worldwide shipper FedEx, disrupted Britain's health system and infected computers in almost 100 countries on Friday.

NHS Digital said: "At this stage we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed". "In less than 3 hours (even can say less than 2 hours if we count it from the explosion), they got victims already from 11 countries".

NHS Digital said the attack "was not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organizations from across a range of sectors".

"We are now seeing more than 75,000 detections.in 99 countries", Jakub Kroustek of the security firm Avast said in a blog post around 2000 GMT.

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.

Pictures posted on social media showed screens of NHS computers with images demanding payment of 300 U.S. dollars worth of the online currency Bitcoin, saying: "Ooops, your files have been encrypted!"

"We are also working with CERT NZ to provide information on how individuals, small businesses and operators of larger systems can reduce their vulnerability to ransomware attacks", he said.

Volk added that ministry experts are now working to recover the system and do necessary security updates.

Tens of thousands of ransomware attacks are targeting organizations around the world on Friday. Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan were the top targets, it said.

Some of the companies that were targeted in the worldwide cyberattack included global shipper FedEx Corp, Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica and French aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

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The attack involved ransomware, a kind of malware that encrypts data and locks out the user.

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

According to Russian cyber security software maker Kaspersky Lab said its researchers had observed more than 45,000 attacks in 74 countries as of early Friday.

This is not targeted at the NHS, it's an worldwide attack and a number of countries and organisations have been affected.

"We are experiencing a major IT disruption and there are delays at all of our hospitals", said the Barts Health group, which manages major London hospitals.

The attack came as several companies in Spain were hit by ransomware attacks.

Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Trust said it had not been affected by the attack, but had switched off its IT systems.

WCry has been particularly devastating to the U.K.'s National Health Service.

"Our society increasingly relies on interconnected systems to deliver key services such as health", he said. "There have been no inside information leaks from the Russian Interior Ministry's information resources".

In the northwestern seaside town of Blackpool, doctors had resorted to pen and paper, with phone and computer systems having shut down, according to the local newspaper, The Blackpool Gazette.

Finding the perpetrators will rely on the hope that the hackers made a technical mistake while preparing the attack, Kolochenko said.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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