Published: Mon, May 15, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Ellis Neal

Australia possibly caught up in cyber-attack

On Friday a number of agencies and businesses around the globe, including the U.K.'s National Health Service, were disrupted by the malware, which is estimated to have hit over 100,000 organizations in 150 countries, Rob Wainwright, executive director of Europol, the European law enforcement agency, told ITV.

Microsoft distributed a patch that could have forestalled much of the attack, but in many organizations it was likely lost among the blizzard of updates and patches that large corporate and government IT departments strain to manage.

Some security experts expect a second wave of the attack to start Monday morning, as employees arrive at work and turn on affected computers.

"We're in the face of an escalating threat".

"We are running around 200 global operations against cyber crime each year but we've never seen anything like this", he added. It held users hostage by freezing their computers, encrypting their data, and demanding money through online payment.

It combined a known and highly risky security hole in Microsoft Windows, tardy users who didn't apply Microsoft's March software fix, and a software design that allowed the malware to spread quickly once inside university, business and government networks.

Russian Federation and Britain were among the worst-hit countries by the attack. While analyzing it, they discovered coding that flipped the ransomware's "kill switch".

An Indian-origin doctor based in London had warned against the cyber-hack of the NHS just days before it crippled the country's network.

A British cyber whiz was hailed an "accidental hero" after he registered a domain name that unexpectedly stopped the spread of the virus, which exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows software.

Microsoft said the situation was "painful" and that it was taking "all possible actions to protect our customers".

The anonymous researcher said registering a domain name used by the malware stops it from spreading, though it can not help computers already affected.

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.

The US security firm Symantec said the attack appeared to be indiscriminate.

Hospitals, major companies and government offices were hit by a virus that seeks to seize control of computers until the victims pay a ransom. The statement said antivirus systems are working to destroy it. Security researchers said they observed some victims paying via the digital currency bitcoin, though they did not know what percent had given in to the extortionists.

Mr MacGibbon declined to comment on the identity or type of the business impacted by the unprecedented cyber attack but said it was a small company, which did not provide critical infrastructure.

The hackers remain anonymous for now, but it appears that they are amateurs.

Like this: