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Ransomware cyber-attack threat escalating - Europol

16 Mai 2017

The suspicion that the vulnerability of systems around the world were exploited by a hacking tool thought to have been developed by America's National Security Agency exposes the fact that governments may be the ones most to blame as their intelligence agencies are the ones who create such openings to spy on people through the communications networks linking smartphones by exploiting loopholes in their operating systems.

The cyberattack affected 16 organizations that are part of the National Health Service on Friday, causing some surgical procedures to be canceled and ambulances diverted. Spain, Portugal and Russian Federation were also struck.

More than 75,000 similar attacks reportedly happened in nearly 100 countries, with Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan hardest hit, according to the cybersecurity firm Avast.

Security wonks are calling it the biggest cyberattack ever.

Microsoft did release a patch to fix the issue in mid-March, so organisations and individuals who did not update their systems are at risk.

Hitachi: The Japanese electronics firm said Monday that its computer systems have been experiencing problems since the weekend, including not being able to send and receive emails or open attached files. Install Microsoft's patch. 3.

Experts were scrambling to determine who was behind the attack, which exploited a security flaw in older versions of Microsoft's Windows operating software. "Humans are the weakest link in cyber security, and this ransomware attack proves that yet again", he said.

"For so many organizations in the same day to be hit, this is unprecedented", Wysopal said. Security agencies in affected countries were racing to find out. Bloomberg Businessweek wrote in 2015 about a spate of malware infections at hospitals where radiological machines, blood-gas analyzers and other devices were compromised and used to siphon off the personal data of patients. Doctors' practices and pharmacies reported similar problems.

United Kingdom defense secretary Michael Fallon said Sunday that Britain's nuclear submarines were safe from cyberattack.

Tom Griffiths, who was at the hospital for chemotherapy, said several cancer patients had to be sent home because their records or bloodwork couldn't be accessed. "There's always more we can all do to make sure we're secure against viruses, but I think there have already been good preparations in place by the NHS to make sure they were ready for this sort of attack". "It's stressful enough for someone going through recovery or treatment for cancer".

The ransomware attack struck British National Health Service organisations, along with computer networks of companies and municipalities in dozens of other countries.

The federal government has confirmed that it is also investigating reports of two other attacks. The gov-ernment said it was communicating with more than 100 energy, transportation, telecommunica-tions and financial services providers about the attack.

High-profile victims include hospitals in Britain, the Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, French carmaker Renault, US package delivery company FedEx, Russia's interior ministry and the German rail operator Deutsche Bahn.

The Scottish Government says action to keep people, businesses and the public sector safe when using digital technology will be stepped up following Friday's global cyber attack.

Still, researchers say, many computer systems continue to be infected by the "WannaCry" malware program and the domain fix may still leave some people, especially corporations, vulnerable. Databases containing information on supplies, staff, and even patient admittance are all contained in information systems, making them vulnerable to a mass scale cyber attack such as this one.

Government of India on Sunday said it has activated a "preparedness and response mechanism" to prevent any major cyber attack from a new ransomware - "Wannacry" - which has infected computer systems around the world.

"In cases of genuine (universal resource locators) URLs, close out the email and go to the organisation's website directly through browser", it said. That was a shock.

Ransomware cyber-attack threat escalating - Europol