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13 May 2017, 10:41 | Denise Dawson
'Biggest ransomware outbreak in history' hits nearly 100 countries
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Computers across the world were locked up Friday and users' files held for ransom when dozens of countries were hit in a cyber-extortion attack that targeted hospitals, companies and government agencies.
"We are very aware that attacks on critical services such as the NHS have a massive impact on individuals and their families, and we are doing everything in our power to help them restore these vital services", said Ciaran Martin, the body's chief executive. This is not targeted at the NHS, it's an global attack and a number of countries and organisations have been affected.
According to The Guardian, British Prime Minister Theresa May said the attack on NHS was part of a larger attack that struck 11 other countries, including Spain, Germany, Russia and Japan.
According to Ryan Kalember, senior Vice President of cyber security strategy at the cybersecurity firm Proofpoint, a "ransomware worm" using the essentially unaltered NSA code is spreading across corporate networks in at least 74 countries, with European and Asian countries among the hardest hit.
Attacks were being reported in Britain and 11 other countries, including Turkey, Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, with the majority of affected computers in Russian Federation.
The hackers behind the "ransomware" attack were demanding $300 worth of the online currency Bitcoin to release files from encryption, the Mirror and Telegraph reported.
No patient data was believed to have been accessed during the attack, and Britain's National Cyber Security Centre and National Crime Agency have said that they are now investigating the issue.
Colchester General Hospital shut down its IT systems on Friday after the NHS fell victim to a "randsomware" cyberattack. The statement said antivirus systems are working to destroy it.
Do ransomware attacks generate money for the hackers? Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan were the top targets, it said.
Telecommunications company Telefonica was among many targets in Spain, though it said the attack was limited to some computers on an internal network and had not affected clients or services.
The attack involved ransomware, a kind of malware that encrypts data and locks out the user.
The US Department of Homeland Security's computer emergency response team said it was aware of ransomware infections "in several countries around the world".
Bart's Health, which runs several London hospitals, said it had activated its major incident plan, cancelling routine appointments and diverting ambulances to neighboring hospitals.
The attack in Spain has been blamed on a piece of malware called WannaCry, or WCry, as Financial Times security editor Sam Jones reports.
NHS Merseyside, which operates several hospitals in northwest England, tweeted that "following a suspected national cyberattack, we are taking all precautionary measures possible to protect our local NHS systems and services". It is available in at least 28 languages, including Bulgarian and Vietnamese, according to Avast, a Czech security company that is following the fast-moving attack.
He said many NHS hospitals in Britain use Windows XP software, introduced in 2001, and as government funding for the health service has been squeezed, "IT budgets are often one of the first ones to be reduced".
The statement said there were thousands of cyberattacks daily "and Romania is no exception". "There have been no inside information leaks from the Russian Interior Ministry's information resources".
The real story, he said, would emerge in the coming days and weeks, following thorough analysis of what happened.
The statement said "due to the efficient cooperation between the institutions, the attack was prevented as were damages, as the targets were identified as well as the methodology of the attack".
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