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16 May 2017, 10:20 | Ruben Fields
The attacks exploited the computers because they were running outdated versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system.
A statement from Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith on Sunday criticized the way governments store up information about security flaws in computer systems.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are among the countries most targeted by ransomware attacks in the region, a report from cybersecurity firm Symantec said earlier this month.
Eight small Australian businesses have reported falling victim to the WannaCrypt ransomware now menacing the globe.
USA package delivery giant FedEx, Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica and Germany's Deutsche Bahn rail network were among those hit in the attacks, which demanded money to allow users to unblock their computers.
Medics at the Royal London in Whitechapel were under strict orders not to touch their PCs for fear of spreading the ransomware virus that hit the biggest NHS trust and 46 others.
At least one Australian business has fallen victim to the ransomware attack and there are investigations into two other reports, the federal government says.
Wainwright has acknowledged that Europol is actively collaborating with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and other worldwide law enforcement agencies as they attempt to track down the persons or groups responsible for the attack.
It was not yet known who perpetrated Friday's attacks.
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So far, the culprits are unknown, as is the motivation. "We will continue to work with affected (organizations) to confirm this", the agency said.
Experts think it unlikely to have been one person, with criminally minded cyber crime syndicates nowadays going underground and using ever more sophisticated encryption to hide their activities. In the letter they warned that "computer hardware and software that can no longer be supported should be replaced as a matter of urgency" and insisted that "more can be done to protect against potential risks".
Shortly after that disclosure, Microsoft announced that it had already issued software "patches", or fixes, for those holes - but many users haven't yet installed the fixes or are using older versions of Windows. Kaspersky said it was seeking to develop a decryption tool "as soon as possible".
The number of ransomware-affected cases is still rising.
To decode the files, the hackers were asking for $300 in ransom.
Payment is demanded within three days or the price is doubled, and if none is received within seven days the locked files will be deleted, according to the screen message.
Experts and governments alike warn against ceding to the demands and Wainwright said few victims so far had been paying up.
The ransomware tracker counts the volume of queries made to MalwareTech's registered domain, which is a fundamental part of WannaCrypt's operations; the ransomware abandons its attack if it can connect to the previously unregistered domain.
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