Massive, fast-moving cyberattack hits as many as 74 countries

13 May, 2017, 10:38 | Author: Randy Kelley

NEW YORK (AP) - Dozens of countries were hit with a huge cyberextortion attack Friday that locked up computers and held users' files for ransom at a multitude of hospitals, companies and government agencies.

NHS England has declared a nationwide "major incident".

NHS Digital, which oversees United Kingdom hospital cybersecurity, says the attack used the Wanna Decryptor variant of malware, which infects and locks computers while the attackers demand a ransom. Here is a list of all of the services that we know to have been affected.

British based cyber researcher Chris Doman of AlienVault said the ransomware "looks to be targeting a wide range of countries", with preliminary evidence of infections from 14 countries so far, also including Russia, Indonesia and Ukraine.

The attack also hit facilities in Scotland, where Health Secretary Shona Robison says officials are "taking immediate steps to minimize the impact of the attack across NHS Scotland and restrict any disruption".

"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.

"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.

It is understood that several health trusts turned their computer systems off as a precautionary measure, rather than being shut down by the attack.

"I just hope they (the victims) have a good backup of those systems", Culler said.

"Earlier today, our products detected and successfully blocked a large number of ransomware attacks around the world", Kaspersky Lab said in its Securelist blog.

Reports in Russian Federation say the nation's top criminal investigation agency, the Investigative Committee, has also been targeted.

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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. The malware then displays a window informing users that their files have been encrypted and that they can be recovered in lieu of a payment made in bitcoin.

South of the border there were reports of hospitals having lost the use of phone lines and computers with some emergency patients being diverted.

A global cyberattack using hacking tools which are thought to have been development by the US National Security Agency has affected businesses and government services in nearly 100 countries.

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

East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which runs hospitals in an area north of London, said "the trust has experienced a major IT problem, believed to be caused by a cyberattack".

Staff were forced to revert to pen and paper and use their own mobiles after the attack affected key systems, including telephones.

The U.K.'s National Cyber Security Center says it's working with both the digital office of the NHS and law enforcement.

In a tweet, Europol Director Rob Wainwright said the cyberattack on British health care institutions "follows trend from U.S. of ransomware attacks on health care trusts".

The statement said there were thousands of cyberattacks daily "and Romania is no exception".

The attacks did not disrupt the provision of services or networks operations of the victims, the Spanish government said in a statement. "There have been no inside information leaks from the Russian Interior Ministry's information resources".

It said the attacks had not affected the companies' services or data protection of their clients.

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