Cybersecurity experts braced for new wave of hacking victims

Frederick Owens
May 16, 2017

Russia's interior ministry said some of its computers had been hit by a "virus attack" and that efforts were underway to destroy it. To learn more about ensuring safety from such type of attack, MacGibbon said people must visit the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

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. Cybersecurity researcher Darien Huss, whom MalwareTech credited with assisting in stopping the first outbreak, tweeted Sunday morning that a new outbreak could be oncoming, as likely copycats released an updated version of the ransomware, without the previously used "kill switch".

Organizations around the world spent the weekend trying to recover after being hit by a virus that seeks to seize control of computers until victims pay a ransom.

"The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call", Smith said.

British cybersecurity expert Graham Cluley doesn't want to blame the NSA for the attack. The James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston was among those affected.

That was the chilling prediction made yesterday by Ron Wainwright, the English-born head of the EU's crimefighting organisation Europol.

Seven hospitals were still unable to accept emergency patients two days after a global cyber attack brought down dozens of NHS systems.

The malicious software, which spread over email and locked computer systems with threats they would be wiped unless users paid money to the hackers, is widely believed to exploit tools stolen from the NSA and distributed online, the New York Times reported. This one worked because of a "perfect storm" of conditions, including a known and highly risky security hole in Microsoft Windows, tardy users who didn't apply Microsoft's March software fix, and malware created to spread quickly once inside university, business and government networks. But computers and networks that hadn't updated their systems were still at risk.

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Telefónica: Spanish authorities confirmed the Spanish telecom company Telefónica was one of the targets, though the attack affected only some computers and did not compromise the security of clients' information. Wainwright said Europol did not know the motive.

Germany's national railway said Saturday that departure and arrival display screens at its train stations were affected, but there was no impact on actual train services.

In China, the internet security company Qihoo360 issued a "red alert" saying that a large number of colleges and students in the country had been affected by the ransomware, which is also referred to as WannaCrypt.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said there was no evidence patient data had been compro-mised and added that the attack had not specifically targeted the National Health Service.

Just one day before the attack Dr Krishna Chinthapalli, a registrar in London, warned in a British Medical Journal article that some hospitals "will nearly certainly be shut down by ransomware this year". In 2000, a Filipino computer graduate unleashed the "Love Bug" virus that wreaked havoc in at least 20 countries and caused losses estimated at up to $10 billion.

In the United Kingdom, hospitals were crippled by the cyberattack, which forced operations to be canceled and ambulances to be diverted. We should be prepared: "more hospitals will nearly certainly be shut down by ransomware this year", Chinthapalli wrote.

Ransomware software generally only demands a few hundred pounds or dollars. Here's how to turn automatic updates on.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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