200000 cyberattack victims in 150-plus states: Europol

Gillian Hann

MalwareTech, who wants to remain anonymous, was hailed as an "accidental hero" after registering a domain name to track the spread of the virus, which actually ended up halting it.

Several cybersecurity firms said they had identified the malicious software behind the attack, which has apparently hit Russian Federation the hardest.

He was quoted as saying he noticed the web address the virus was searching for had not been registered - and when he registered it, the virus appeared to stop spreading.

Most other malicious programs rely on humans to spread by tricking them into clicking on an attachment harbouring the attack code.

Defence minister Michael Fallon told the BBC the government under Prime Minister Theresa May was spending around 50 million pounds on improving the computer systems in the NHS after warning the service that it needed to reduce its exposure to "the weakest system, the Windows XP".

Avast said the majority of the attacks targeted Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan - though exactly which computers in those areas were targeted remains fuzzy.

The worldwide cyberextortion attack has prompted Microsoft to take the unusual step of making security fixes available for older Windows system.

Dozens of countries were hit by the ransomware attack on Friday that locked up computers and held users' files for ransom at a multitude of hospitals, companies and government agencies.

The most disruptive attacks were reported in the United Kingdom, where hospitals and clinics were forced to turn away patients after losing access to computers. Once inside an organisation's network, the malware behind the attack spread rapidly using this vulnerability.

Cyber security experts say many companies may be affected, but won't find out until they reopen for business tomorrow morning.

"The global reach is unprecedented".

Massive Ransomware Hack Hits Windows Users Worldwide
Hospitals in London , northwest England and other parts of the country reported problems with their computer systems Friday. National Security Agency (NSA), which exposed that secretive agency's hacking tools, including several Zero Day exploits.

Renault's futuristic assembly line in Slovenia, where rows of robots weld vehicle bodies together, was stopped cold.

Europol said its cybercrime specialists will support affected countries as a "complex global investigation" to identify the culprits begins.

Jan Op Gen Oorth, spokesman for the Netherlands-based Europol, said the number of individuals who have fallen victim to the cyberextortion attack could be much higher.

The cyberattack has severely affected Britain's healthcare services.

Ransomware attack hit more than 200,000 victims in 150 countries, European police agency director said.

The attack is believed to be the biggest online extortion attack ever recorded.

Germany's rail operator Deutsche Bahn said its station display panels were affected.

The head of Turkey's Information and Communication Technologies Authority or BTK says the nation was among those affected by the ransomware attack. The company said the virus has been localized and "technical work is underway to destroy it and update the antivirus protection". Omer Fatih Sayan said the country's cyber security centre was continuing operations against the malicious software. The team asked users to update antivirus applications and not open suspicious phishing emails.

Sixteen National Health Service organizations in the United Kingdom were hit, and some of those hospitals canceled outpatient appointments and told people to avoid emergency departments if possible.

Described as the greatest cyber ransom assault, the attack started on Friday affecting state agencies and important companies around the globe including Russian banks, British hospitals in addition to FedEx as well as European vehicle factories.

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