Ransomware cyber-attack a wake-up call

The NHS East and North Hertfordshire notifying users of a cybersecurity problem. — AFP

Spanish telco giant Telefonica and USA delivery service FedEx were among the businesses affected.

Kaspersky Lab, a large computer security firm based in Moscow, also cautioned against believing that the outbreak was over. Past year a hospital in Los Angeles paid $17,000 to regain control of its IT system following a ransomware attack.

Speaking to ITV News, the Director of Europol, Rob Wainwright said: "We've seen the extent to which the ransomware, which had its infection rates slowed down over the weekend, now mutated by the cyber crime groups behind it".

He warned the threat could escalate further and expressed concerns over possible attacks on Monday.

The government has listed only three Australians companies among the victims of the "WannaCry" attack, but says the number is likely to rise as companies return to work today.

The cyber attack, which has also targeted the United Kingdom health system, involves ransomware which encrypts data and locks out the user, displaying a message that the user must pay $300 ransom in bitcoin to retrieve their files.

Account addresses hardcoded into the WannaCry software code showed the attackers received $32,500 in anonymous bitcoin till Sunday, but that amount could rise as more victims rush to pay ransoms of $300 or more just one day before the deadline expires.

However, Wainwright said so far "remarkably few" payments had been made by the victims of the attack.

Yesterday, security firm Digital Shadows said that transactions totalling Dollars 32,000 had taken place through Bitcoin addresses used by the ransomware. "They are processing a lot of sensitive data", said Mr Wainwright.

NHS Digital has been working around the clock over the weekend to support NHS organisations hit by Friday's massive global cyber attack.

Riverbank IT Management managing director Malcolm Newdick said: "Last week's ransomware attack was the most risky malware attack we have seen".

"There will be lessons to learn from what appears to be the biggest criminal cyber-attack in history", Rudd said in response to a letter from opposition Labour Party spokesperson Jonathan Ashworth.

It affected the UK's National Health Service, Russia's Ministry of Interior, Germany's rail system, automakers Nissan Motor and Renault, logistics giant FedEx Corp., and other company and hospital computer systems in countries from Eastern Europe to the USA and Asia, Bloomberg reports.

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