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Cyber attack is biggest of its kind ever launched, say security chiefs

Cyber attack is biggest of its kind ever launched, say security chiefs

European policing and security agencies said the fallout from a ransomware attack that has already crippled more than 200,000 computers around the world could deepen as people return for another work week.

Europol Director Rob Wainwright told ITV's Peston on Sunday programme that what was unique about the attack was that the ransomware was used in combination with "a worm functionality" so the infection spread automatically. "The latest count is over 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries, and those victims, many of those will be businesses, including large corporations".

The party's home affairs spokesman Brian Paddick said: "We need to get to the bottom of why the government thought cyber-attacks were not a risk, when a combination of warnings and plain common sense should have told ministers that there is a growing and risky threat to our cyber-security".

The indiscriminate attack began Friday and struck banks, hospitals and government agencies, exploiting known vulnerabilities in older Microsoft computer operating systems.

In total 47 NHS organisations reported being affected - and the disruption is continuing into the new working week.

Marin Ivezic, cyber security partner at PwC, said that some clients had been "working around the clock since the story broke" to restore systems and install software updates, or patches, or restore systems from backups.

Indonesias government reported two hospitals in Jakarta were affected.

The attack held users hostage by freezing their computers, encrypting their data and demanding money through online bitcoin payment - US$300 ($437) at first, rising to US$600 ($875) before it destroys files hours later.

Wainwright warned the healthcare sector "in many countries" was particularly vulnerable, but that all organizations should ensure they prioritize cyber security and update their systems.

But one major company, Hitachi, said it was experiencing difficulties with its email system. Hundreds of NHS hospitals and clinics in the United Kingdom were infected, forcing them to send patients to other facilities.




Chinthapalli, a neurology registrar at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, said: "Some people have said I predicted this but that's not quite right, I was warning about this and saying that attacks were likely to be imminent this year".

Ryan Kalember, senior vice president at Proofpoint Inc. which helped stop its spread, said the version without a kill switch was able to spread but was benign because it contained a flaw that wouldn't allow it to take over a computer and demand ransom to unlock files.

The WannaCry ransomware attack hobbled Chinese traffic police and schools as it rolled into Asia, while authorities in Europe worked to prevent hackers from spreading new versions of the internet worm.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis, said: "This senseless cyber attack will make their jobs even harder".

He added that governments around the world should "treat this attack as a wake-up call" and "consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits".

The malware used a technique purportedly stolen from the US National Security Agency.

It issued guidance for people to protect their systems, while taking the highly unusual step of reissuing security patches first made available in March for Windows XP and other older versions of its operating system.

He cited freedom of information requests which showed that 79 English Trusts, more than 33%, had suffered ransomware attacks since June 2015 and stated "it is abundantly clear that our NHS should have been better prepared for ransomware attacks". "You're only safe if you patch ASAP".

"There are other criminals who've launched this attack, and they are ultimately responsible for this", he said.

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