At least one Australian firm hit by global cyber attack

Angelica Greene
May 15, 2017

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at the Helsinki-based cyber security company F-Secure, told AFP it was the biggest ransomware outbreak in history, saying that 130,000 systems in more than 100 countries had been affected.

Wainwright said he was concerned that the numbers of those affected would continue to rise when people returned to work on Monday morning.

Meanwhile Europol's chief told the BBC that that the ransomware was created to allow "infection of one computer to quickly spread across the networks", adding: "That's why we're seeing these numbers increasing all the time".

"The global reach is unprecedented".

The indiscriminate attack, which began Friday, struck banks, hospitals and government agencies in more than 150 countries, exploiting known vulnerabilities in old Microsoft computer operating systems.

Countries so far hit by the attack include the UK, US, Spain, Ukraine, France, Russia, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, India, Sweden and Norway.

According to Matthew Hickey, founder of the security firm Hacker House, the attack is not surprising, and it shows many organizations do not apply updates in a timely fashion. The hackers then demand $300 in order to release control of the files.

Initial BBC estimates suggest that the hackers may have met with little success from a ransom standpoint, receiving payments of only £22,080.

Individuals and organisations were discouraged from paying the ransom, as it was not guaranteed that the access would be restored.

The malware spreads through e-mail. Computers running Microsoft Windows were infected with "WanaCrypt0r 2.0 or WannaCry" ransomware.

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The malware, known as WannaCry or WannaCrypt, exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was reportedly developed and used by the U.S. National Security Agency.

Microsoft released security updates last month to address the vulnerability, with another patch released on Friday.

Microsoft generally charges hefty fees for providing custom support for older version of Windows.

NHS Digital said that 4.7 per cent of devices within the NHS use Windows XP, with the figure continuing to decrease.

University of Melbourne computing expert Dr Suelette Dreyfus believes it was possible local organisations had been hit, only they're keeping it under wraps.

In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service has been forced to cancel operations today within its hospitals after computers used to share patients' test results and scans with doctors remain frozen.

Screenshot of the suspected ransomware message on a GP's computer. It demands users pay Dollars 300 worth of cryptocurrency Bitcoin to retrieve their files, though it warns that the payment will be raised after a certain amount of time.

"And there is also the danger that existing infections from the malware can spread within networks", it said.

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.

If infected, disconnect the computer from the network so that other computers are not infected.

Other reports by GizPress

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