World reels from cyberattack that hit nearly 100 countries

Angelica Greene
May 15, 2017

The ransomware's rapid spread suggests that many organizations have been slow to update their systems to newer versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system that address the bug, which likely aided the worm's movement.

FedEx told The Reg: "Like many other companies, FedEx is experiencing interference with some of our Windows-based systems caused by malware". But millions of individuals and smaller businesses still had such systems.

In a post on Microsoft's blog, Smith says: "An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the USA military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen".

Microsoft President Brad Smith appeared to tacitly acknowledge in a blog post what researchers had already widely concluded: The ransomware attack leveraged a hacking tool, built by and stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency. But computers and networks that hadn't updated their systems were still at risk.

The statement said there were thousands of cyberattacks daily "and Romania is no exception".

It turned out that the ransomware code was written to connect to an unregistered domain and "if the connection is not successful it ransoms the system, if it is successful, the malware exits".

Renault representative Nevenka Basek Zildzovic confirmed that "some troubles occurred with some parts of IT system at Revoz".

"I just can't stress it enough: we have a global patch management problem", said Katie Moussouris, CEO and founder of the cybersecurity company Luta Security.

French carmaker Renault's assembly plant in Slovenia halted production after it was targeted in the global cyberattack.

The two unionists spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitiveness of the issue. He said that mobile communications haven't been affected.

The consequences for the company remained unclear.

Organizations running older Windows software couldn't patch immediately because there was no patch available.

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At the moment, all PCs that do not have the latest Microsoft security updates are vulnerable to attack by the ransomware.

Europol's European Cybercrime Centre, EC3, said in a statement today that the attack was "at an unprecedented level and will require a complex global investigation to identify the culprits". "We are actively sharing information related to this event and stand ready to lend technical support and assistance as needed to our partners, both in the United States and internationally", the department said.

Other criminals may be tempted to mimic the success of Friday's "ransomware " attack, which locks up computers and hold people's files for ransom.

"It's an worldwide attack and a number of countries and organizations have been affected", Mrs.

Antivirus companies such as Avast and Kaspersky saw many more of their users being attacked by this ransomware today than they usually do. Deutsche Bahn said it deployed extra staff to busy stations to help customers, and recommended that they check its website or app for information on their connections.

The railway said that there was no impact on actual train services.

As similar widespread ransomware attacks were reported in Spain, Romania and elsewhere, experts warned that online extortion attempts by hackers are a growing menace.

The spread of WannaCry represents "one of the highest peaks for a single ransomware strain" that Avast has recorded this year, said Jakub Kroustek, the leader of Avast's virus team.

"While there's nothing particularly special about this pattern ... for sure, if there are future leaks you can expect the same patterns to be followed", Moussouris said, stressing the importance of applying patches as soon as possible once software updates are made available.

Britain's National Cyber Security Center has joined others in warning that more cases of "ransomware" attacks may come to light as a new work week starts Monday. Two security firms-Kaspersky Lab and Avast-said they had identified the malicious software behind the attack in over 70 countries, although both said the attack had hit Russian Federation the hardest.

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".

Other reports by GizPress

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