Hospitals, schools, companies and governments around the world were assessing the damage Saturday after a massive cyberattack hit almost 100 countries, infecting computers with malware that demanded ransom payments.
No one has yet claimed the worldwide attack, which experts believe used tools stolen from the National Security Agency.Antivirus providerAvast reportedthat some 100,000 computers had been infected by the crippling malware and that the “WanaCrypt0r 2.0,” as it is called, ransomware had been detectedin 99 countries with Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan the top targets.
More than twenty British hospitals and major companies, including FedEx and Spain’s largest telecom, were affected in Friday’s hack. British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said 45 public health organizations had been hit and admitted that her officials had no idea who was behind the attack.Auto makers Renault and Nissan were the latest multinationals to announce their computer systems had been compromised.In Germany, customer information screens at railway stations were hit but there was no impact on services.Russia’s Interior Ministry also confirmed it had been hit, while Russia’s central bank said it had thwarted the attack.The malicious software — known as the Wanna Decryptor, or WannaCry — locks a system and its files from use unless money is paid to hackers.The malware typically spreads throughemail phishing programs and had exploited a known bug in Microsoft Windows’ operating system.It is especially nasty because it acts like a worm — finding security holes in a computer to spread throughout a network.”The scale of it — that’s pretty unprecedented,” Ben Rapp, the CEO of IT support company Managed Networks,told NBC News’ British partner ITV News. “There’s been a lot of ransomware in hospitals, but to see 16 hospitals, last time I looked, and reports of other people — this is probably the biggest ransomware attack we’ve seen.”Microsoft said it was pushing out automatic Windows updates to defendits clients from the malware.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Microsoft released a patch to address the vulnerability in March and urged users to install it.Whistleblower Edward Snowden blamed the NSA for the damage, tweeting: “If @NSAGov had privately disclosed the flaw used to attack hospitals when they *found* it, not when they lost it, this may not have happened.”In a statement, FedEx said that it was”experiencing interference with some of our Windows-based systems caused by malware. We are implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible.”The Memphis, Tennessee-based global delivery company did not immediately say whether a ransom was demanded for return of their computers’ functions.Spanish telecom giant Telefonica confirmed in a statement that a”cybersecurity incident” occurred Friday that affected the computers at its Madrid headquarters.China’s official news agency Xinhua said secondary schools and universities were hit, but did not say how many or identify them.