Massive ‘Ransomware’ attack hits 99 countries around the world

A large-scale cyberattack has spread across 99 countries, including the UK, US, China, Russia, Spain, Italy and India.

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi | Updated: May 13, 2017 3:24 pm
global cyberattack, ransomware attack, international cyberattack, cyberattack hits 99 countries, NSA tools, cyberattack UK, UK health service cyberattacks, WannaCry, technology, technology news Unknown hackers apparently launched ‘ransomware’ attacks, which basically encrypt files and demands a Bitcoin (a form of virtual currency) payment to regain access.

A large-scale cyberattack has spread across  99 countries, including the UK, US, China, Russia, Spain, Italy and India. The cyberattack has affected the IT systems of banks, telephone companies and hospitals.  No instance of the vulnerability being exploited in India has come to light yet.

Cyber-security firm Avast, a provider of Antivirus, said it had seen at least 75,000 computers been infected by the malware, dubbed ‘WannaCry’. Among the government agencies and companies affected include UK’s National Health Service, FedEx, Spain’s communications giant Telefonica and the Russian Interior Ministry.

Unknown hackers apparently launched ‘ransomware’ attacks, which basically encrypt  files and demands a Bitcoin (a form of virtual currency) payment to regain access. The message displaying on NHS computers has been circulated on social media and victims of the attack needs to send $300 or $600 to a bitcoin address.

In the U.K, the cyberattack has affected at least 16 organizations within the state-run National Health service. “The investigation is at an early stage but we believe the malware variant is Wanna Decryptor. This attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organisations from across a range of sectors. At this stage we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed”, NHS Digital said in a statement.

The hackers, who are still unidentified, likely made a “self spreading malware”, by exploiting a piece of  NSA code known as “Eternal Blue” that was released by a group known as the Shadow Brokers. ‘WannaCry’ exploits a vulnerability on old Microsoft computers that was first discovered by the National Security Agency. Microsoft even released a patch for the exploit known as MS17-010, in March. But those machines that haven’t been updated, the malicious code encrypts all of an infected computer’s files – and then spread on its own.

The U.S Department of Homeland Security, in a statement, encouraged users to update their systems. “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. DHS has a cadre of cybersecurity professionals that can provide expertise and support to critical infrastructure entities,”the department said.

In a statement, Kaspersky Lab said it was “currently working on the possibility of creating a decryption tool to help victims…we will provide an update when a tool is available”.

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