UK health minister: No second spike in cyber attacks is 'encouraging'

16 Mai, 2017, 03:03 | Author: Cyril Hebras

The indiscriminate attack was unleashed Friday, striking hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide by exploiting known vulnerabilities in older Microsoft computer operating systems.

President Vladimir Putin denied Russian Federation, which has been accused of cyber meddling in several countries around the world in recent years, had anything to do with an attack that hit hundreds of thousands of computers. Also affected were railway stations, mail delivery, gas stations, hospitals, office buildings, shopping malls and government services.

Researchers who helped prevent the spread of the malware and cybersecurity firms worked around the clock over the weekend to monitor the situation and install the software patch.

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was warned about the failure to update cyber security on NHS IT systems past year.

"We will get a decryption tool eventually, but for the moment, it's still a live threat and we're still in disaster recovery mode", Europol director Rob Wainwright told CNN's Becky Anderson on Sunday, adding that the number of cases was still rising.

"We've never seen anything like this", the head of the European Union's policing agency told Britain's ITV television Sunday, calling its reach "unprecedented". And it's why we've pledged our support for defending every customer everywhere in the face of cyberattacks, regardless of their nationality. So even people with older computers should go update them.

Senior security staff held another meeting in the White House Situation Room on Saturday, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency were trying to identify the perpetrators of the massive cyber attack, said the official, who spoke on condition on anonymity to the news agency to discuss internal deliberations.

Payment is demanded within three days or the price is doubled, and if none is received within seven days the locked files will be deleted, according to the screen message.

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But he warned it was likely some Australians would fall victim.

Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer, earlier said the code used in the attack was originally developed by the US National Security Agency.

The attack is the latest in a series of security breaches for the NSA dating back to last summer, when a group calling itself "Shadow Brokers" started posting hacking weapons pilfered from the organization. "We need governments to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits", Smith said.

Microsoft declared the attack a "wake-up call" for governments across the world.

The attack is unique, according to Europol, because it combines ransomware with a worm function, meaning once one machine is infected, the entire internal network is scanned and other vulnerable machines are infected.

Ransomware - malicious software that encrypts your computer until you pay up - is, sadly, not new, but a recent, massive global attack on computer networks has pushed ransomware into the spotlight.

Anti-virus experts Symantec said the majority of organisations affected were in Europe. Victims ranged from Renault auto plants in France to the FedEx delivery company in the United States, as well as Russia's interior ministry and Chinese universities.

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