Cyber attack hits 200000 in at least 150 countries - Europol

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

While Mr MacGibbon said Australia looks to have missed the worst of the attack as it didn't seem to have infected government agencies or critical infrastructure, people shouldn't be complacent.

"The numbers are still going up", Wainwright said. His concerns were echoed by James Clapper, former director of national intelligence under President Barack Obama.

As employees return to work on Monday and turn on their computers, the number of infections could rise, the agency said. "As a result, it's possible to tell how much the criminals at the helm of this crimeware spree have made so far and how many victims have paid the ransom", Krebs writes.

He said it was too early to say who was behind the onslaught and what their motivation was, aside from the obvious demand for money.

"Remarkably few payments so far have been made, so most people are not paying this", Wainwright said.

Malicious software called "ransomware" has forced British hospitals to turn away patients and hit Spanish companies such as Telefonica as part of a global outbreak that has affected tens of thousands of computers.

Chinese media reported Sunday that students at several universities were hit, blocking access to their thesis papers and dissertation presentations.

"And also existing known infections can spread, we can't say what scale the new cases will occur at but it's likely there will be some". Omer Fatih Sayan said the country's cyber security center is continuing operations against the malicious software.

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The minister also confirmed the attack wasn't on a government organisation.

Across an ocean, Darien Huss, a 28-year-old research engineer for the cyber security firm Proofpoint, was doing his own analysis, noticing the authors of the malware had left in a feature known as a kill switch.

The Government had set aside more than £1.9 billion to tackle cyber threats, of which some £50 million went to the NHS, after an official security review highlighted hacks as a major threat, he said.

Switching on will allow the HSE's central IT systems to update local machines with security patches and anti-virus capability, it said.

The attack was spread through a vulnerability that was leaked last month in a trove of hacking tools believed to belong to the NSA.

The attacks used ransomware that apparently exploited a security flaw in Microsoft operating systems, locking users' files unless they pay the attackers a designated sum in the virtual currency Bitcoin.

The ransomware exploited a vulnerability that has been patched in updates of recent versions of Windows since March, but Microsoft didn't make freely available the patch for Windows XP and other older systems.

A report in The Guardian yesterday said the attack had hit systems in 99 countries. "So they no longer get the security updates they should be". "In short, it has a lot of computers and at least some of them weren't able to withstand an attack like this". Cybersecurity experts have said the majority of the attacks targeted Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan.

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