Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at the Helsinki-based cybersecurity company F-Secure, called the attack "the biggest ransomware outbreak in history".
Railway stations, mail delivery, gas stations, hospitals, office buildings, shopping malls and government services also were affected, Xinhua said, citing the Threat Intelligence Center of Qihoo 360, a Chinese internet security services company.
All told, several cybersecurity firms said they had identified the malicious software responsible for tens of thousands of attacks in more than 60 countries, including the United States, though its effects in the USA did not appear to be widespread, at least in the initial hours. "It takes time to upgrade all systems in an organization and train end users on the new features and functionality".
US President Donald Trump on Friday night ordered his homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, to convene an "emergency meeting" to assess the threat posed by the global attack, a senior administration official told Reuters.
If this ransomware attack has proven anything, investing in security isn't just a good idea, it's mission critical.
A cyber ransomware is a type of malicious software that blocks access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid through the online medium. Microsoft had issued a patch on March 14, but many computers hadn't run the update. Patched computers carry a much lower risk of being infected by malware or ransomware than those without an update.
In the wake of the attack, Microsoft said it had taken the "highly unusual step" of releasing a patch for computers running older operating systems including Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003.
The security leak from the NSA put all these tools available to the public to use howsoever they wanted.
One security researcher called Malware Tech has released a killswitch that has slowed the WannaCry rampage, but experts are quick to point out the danger of having your computer remotely hacked is still very real. The ease of stopping the attack suggests the hackers were new to this game.
WannaCry has already caused massive disruption around the globe.
But unlike NHS trusts and hospitals in England and Scotland which suffered significantly at the hands of the ransomware attack late last week, NHS Wales wasn't affected by the ransomware attack at all, a feat largely attributed to the fact the health system recently updated its entire network. The NHS said in a statement on Saturday that there was no evidence that patient information had been compromised.
Colleges: Internet security firm Qihoo360 issued a "red alert" over the weekend, saying a large number of colleges and students in China had been hit by the ransomware attack. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said no cases of ransom attacks have been reported in the UAE.
"We are working with customers to provide additional assistance as this situation evolves", the company said. Two big telecom companies, Telefónica of Spain and Megafon of Russian Federation, were also hit, as was Japanese carmaker Nissan in the United Kingdom. Once it installs itself on the host computer it excrypts all the files on that system, making them unsuable.
Just one person in an organization who clicked on an infected attachment or bad link, would lead to all computers in a network becoming infected, said Vikram Thakur, technical director of Symantec Security Response. Someone, we don't yet know who, weaponized this tool and turned it into a ransomware software.
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