Medicine

World braces for more cyberattacks as work week begins

World braces for more cyberattacks as work week begins

Brad Smith criticized US intelligence agencies, including the CIA and National Security Agency, for "stockpiling" software code that can be used by hackers.

The worldwide "ransomware" cyberattack wreaked havoc in hospitals, schools and offices across the globe on Monday.

The cyber sleuths agency advised users to apply patches to their Windows systems in order to prevent its infection and spread. But UK hospitals, Chinese universities and global firms like Fedex also reported they had come under assault.

"We've never seen anything like this", the head of the European Union's policing agency told Britain's ITV television Sunday.

Wainwright described the cyberattack as an "escalating threat". The attackers then demand a ransom between US$300 and US$600 worth of bitcoins, threatening to delete files if payment isn't received within a week.

The malware sets up to receive payments of £230 in virtual currency Bitcoin, although it seems that most who have been affected have not paid up.

Experts and governments alike warn against ceding to the demands and Wainwright said few victims so far had been paying up.

Microsoft has released an emergency patch to fix a vulnerability in Windows exploited by the WannaCry ransomware to devastating effect this weekend. We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the Central Intelligence Agency show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world.

A hacking group called Shadow Brokers released the malware in April, claiming to have discovered the flaw from the NSA, Kaspersky said. Brad Smith, Microsoft's (MSFT, Tech30) president and top lawyer, said Sunday that the company has the "first responsibility" to address the problem.

Microsoft called in February for a "Digital Geneva Convention" laying down the rules for the protection of users from state cyber attacks, including a requirement for governments to report vulnerabilities to vendors, rather than stockpile, sell, or exploit them.

He said that the attack, which affected organisations around the world, was equivalent to Tomahawk missiles being stolen from the military. But he also said the incident was a "wake-up call" for governments.

Healthcare organisations across the United Kingdom had systems knocked offline by the ransomware attack, with patient appointments cancelled and NHS England declaring the cyberattack as a "major incident".

The attack therefore spread faster than previous, smaller-scale ransomware attacks.

Oil and gas company PetroChina said some of its stations were affected, but the company has already restored the majority of its systems.

However, the authors of the "WannaCry" ransomware attack told their victims the amount they must pay will double if they do not comply within three days of the original infection - by Monday, in most cases.

Also on Monday, a major South Korean theater chain, CJ CGV, said that some 50 of its theatres had been affected by the malware, Yonhap news agency reported.

Britain's health service says most hospitals hit by the global "ransomware" attack are back up and running, but seven are still experiencing IT disruption and cancelling appointments.


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