Global Cyber Attack: British Security Officials Warn of Weekday 'WannaCry' Spread

Fernando Stephens
May 18, 2017

More than 200,000 victims in around 150 countries have been infected by the ransomware - a virus which affects a computer network, holding any data it finds to ransom and threatening to delete it without payment.

Following a meeting of the Government's Cobra contingencies committee, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said more than a million patients had been treated in the course of Monday. There is concern that family doctors' surgeries could be struck on Monday when they open. "It has been a very strong response", she said.

Russia's interior ministry said some of its computers had been hit, while the country's banking system was also attacked, although no problems were detected, as was the railway system.

The National Crime Agency encourages victims not to pay any ransom and to contact Action Fraud.

"NCSC and NCA are working with Europol and other worldwide partners to make sure we all collect the right evidence, which we need to do to make sure we have the right material to find out who has done this and we go after them".

The agency's senior spokesman Jan Op Gen Oorth said it was still "a bit early too say who is behind it, but we are working on a decrypting tool".

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

Symantec said the majority of organisations affected were in Europe.

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STAFF battled to take up the slack at the North Middlesex University Hospital after scores of ambulances were diverted there and trauma patients admitted following a major national cyber attack.

Nearly 50 NHS trusts were affected by Friday's cyber attack, including all Lincolnshire hospital trusts and a number of community services and Global Positioning System.

Mr Hunt has come under fire for failing to appear in public since the attack, which hit 47 trusts in England and 13 Scottish health boards.

Smith's blog post did not address another factor in the ransomware's spread, one that hints at the difficulty of uniting against a hacking attack: Users of pirated Microsoft software are unable to download the security patch, forcing them to fend for themselves or rely on a third-party source for a solution.

He said tech companies, customers and the government need to "work together" to protect against attacks.

And while Microsoft said it had already released a security update to patch the vulnerability one month earlier, the sequence of events fed speculation that the NSA hadn't told the USA tech giant about the security risk until after it had been stolen.

NHS Digital said it had made health trusts aware last month of IT protection that could have prevented the damage.

Other reports by BadHub

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