Global ‘Wannacry’ Ransomware Cyberattack Seeks Cash For Data

A global “ransomware” cyberattack, unprecedented in scale, had technicians scrambling to restore Britain’s crippled hospital  network Saturday and secure the computers that run factories, banks,  government agencies and transport systems in many other nations.

The worldwide effort to extort cash from computer users spread so  widely that Microsoft quickly changed its policy, making security fixes  available for free for the older Windows systems still used by millions  of individuals and smaller businesses.

A malware tracking map showed “WannaCry” infections popping up around the world. Britain  canceled or delayed treatments for thousands of patients, even people  with cancer. Train systems were hit in Germany and Russia, and phone  companies in Madrid and Moscow. Renault’s futuristic assembly line in  Slovenia, where rows of robots weld car bodies together, was stopped  cold.

In Brazil, the social security system had to disconnect its computers  and cancel public access. The state-owned oil company Petrobras and  Brazil’s Foreign Ministry also disconnected computers as a precautionary  measure, and court systems went down, too.

Britain’s home secretary said one in five of 248 National Health  Service groups had been hit. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said all but six  of the NHS trusts back to normal Saturday.

The U.K.’s National Cyber Security Center was “working round the  clock” to restore vital health services, while urging people to update  security software fixes, run anti-virus software and back up their data  elsewhere.

Who perpetrated this wave of attacks remains unknown. Two security  firms — Kaspersky Lab and Avast — said they identified the malicious  software in more than 70 countries. Both said Russia was hit hardest.

These hackers “have caused enormous amounts of disruption— probably  the biggest ransomware cyberattack in history,” said Graham Cluley, a  veteran of the anti-virus industry in Oxford, England.

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