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18 May 2017, 08:05 | Audrey Hill
Cyberattacks in 12 nations said to use leaked NSA hacking tool
"I am anxious about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn [on] their machines", Rob Wainwright, director of the European investigative agency Europol, told NBC News' U.K. partner ITV on Sunday.
The ransomware locks users' computers and demands a $300 payment in order to re-gain access. The security flaw that hackers used to launch the attacks Friday was made public after information was stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency, which routinely searches for flaws in software and builds tools to exploit them.
"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", Rob Wainwright, the head of the European Union's law enforcement agency Europol, told CNN's Becky Anderson on Sunday.
The security firm Kaspersky Lab, based in Russian Federation, noted that Microsoft had repaired the software problem that allows backdoor entry into its operating systems weeks before hackers published the exploit linked to the NSA, but also said: "Unfortunately it appears that many users have not yet installed the patch".
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. These are all names for the world's largest ever ransomware development, in which 150 countries hosted more than 200,000 attacks.
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. Several British hospitals say they are having major computer problems Hospitals in London, northwest England and other parts of the country are reporting problems with their computer systems as the result of an apparent cyberattack, Friday May 12, 2017.
So criminals turned to targeted attacks instead to stay below the radar. But U.K. hospitals, Chinese universities and global firms like Fedex (FDX) also reported they had come under assault.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, at a meeting in Italy, said Saturday the attack was a reminder of the importance of cybersecurity. Experts say it will be hard for them to replicate the conditions that allowed the so-called WannaCry ransomware to proliferate across the globe.
The hacking tool was leaked by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers, which has been dumping stolen NSA hacking tools online beginning a year ago.
Officials across the globe scrambled over the weekend to catch the culprits behind a massive ransomware worm that disrupted operations at auto factories, hospitals, shops and schools, while Microsoft on Sunday pinned blame on the US government for not disclosing more software vulnerabilities. Experts fear the situation could further aggravate as a number of computers in India run on the older operating systems and have not been updated yet.
To defend computer running on Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 8 against ransomware, downloading the new patch from Windows. Although it won't do any good for machines that have already been hit. "Unfortunately, most people don't have them", Abrams says. Some security expects calculate that ransomware may bring in as much as $1 billion a year in revenue for the attackers.
United States package delivery giant FedEx, European auto factories, Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, Britain's health service and Germany's Deutsche Bahn rail network were among those hit.
He also suggested to update the systems as soon as possible in twitter. Here's what you should do to protect yourself.
He said tech companies, customers and the government need to "work together" to protect against attacks.
"Malware that penetrates the perimeter and then spreads inside the network tends to be quite successful", said Johannes Ullrich, director of the Internet Storm Center at the SANS Institute.
Russia's Interior Ministry acknowledged a ransomware attack on its computers.
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