UK's National Health Service Hit in Global Ransomware Wave

"Hospitals across England have been hit by a cyberattack", leaving patient files inaccessible, according to the National Health Service (NHS).

Cyber experts in New Zealand believe hackers have used malicious attachments or links in emails to hack computer systems around the world. And, we are not aware of any evidence that patient data has been compromised.

Forcepoint said in a statement that the attack had "global scope", affecting organisations in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Mexico.

The malicious software has infected more than 75,000 computers in 99 countries worldwide on Friday, a lot of them concentrated in Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan, according to Dutch cybersecurity company Avast Software BV.

Asian countries reported no major breaches on Saturday, but officials in the region were scrambling to check and the full extent of the damage may not be known for some time.

In Spain, the attacks did not disrupt the provision of services or networks operations of the victims, the government said in a statement.

The Russian Interior Ministry has confirmed it was hit by the "ransomware" attack, which encrypts data on infected computers and demands payment, usually via the digital currency bitcoin, to release it. Britain's health service was also hit hard Friday as the attack froze computers at hospitals across the country, shutting down wards, closing emergency rooms and bringing medical treatments to a screeching halt. Around five per cent of the computers infected by Wanna Cry were in India.

The NHS says at least 16 of its organizations have been hit by the ransomware.

The US Department of Homeland Security said late on Friday that it was aware of reports of the ransomware, was sharing information with domestic and foreign partners and was ready to lend technical support.

The ransomware is believed to be linked to an exploit, computer code that takes advantage of a computer vulnerability, known to have been used by the Equation Group, which many in the security world believe is connected to the National Security Agency (NSA).

The hacking tool was leaked by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers, which has been dumping stolen NSA hacking tools online since a year ago.

In the US, the Computer Emergency Readiness Team, or CERT, says it has "received multiple reports of ransomware infections in several countries around the world".

Microsoft on Friday said it was pushing out automatic Windows updates to defend clients from WannaCry.

Install all Microsoft patches, particularly the critical security update from March that addressed this issue.

Consumers who have up-to-date software are protected from this ransomware.

On Wednesday, hackers disputed the websites of several French media companies and aerospace giant Airbus.

"Let's hope that the attack on the National Health Service in Britain is simply a matter of inconvenience, and that nobody is denied essential care", he said in an email to FierceHealthcare. Carlos Cabreiro, the director of a police unit that fights cyber crime, told the newspaper P├║blico that the country was facing "computer attacks on a large scale against different Portuguese companies, especially communication operators".

Britain's National Cyber Security Centre and its National Crime Agency, meanwhile, said they were looking into the United Kingdom incidents, apparently caused by a piece of malware called Wanna Decryptor. A spokeswoman for the ministry told Interfax that around 1,000 computers at the ministry have been affected.

Across the US federal government, about 90 percent of all spending on cyber programs is dedicated to offensive efforts, including penetrating the computer systems of adversaries, listening to communications and developing the means to disable or degrade infrastructure, senior intelligence officials told Reuters in March.

Latest News