Log In, Look Out: Cyber Chaos May Grow At Workweek's Start

Log In, Look Out: Cyber Chaos May Grow At Workweek's Start

Log In, Look Out: Cyber Chaos May Grow At Workweek's Start

Europol's European Cybercrime Centre, EC3, said in a statement today that the attack was "at an unprecedented level and will require a complex global investigation to identify the culprits".

Europol said a special task force at its European Cybercrime Centre was "specially created to assist in such investigations and will play an important role in supporting the investigation".

Computers around the globe were hacked beginning on Friday using a security flaw in Microsoft's Windows XP operating system, an older version that was no longer given mainstream tech support by the United States giant.

The hackers behind the ransomware attack, who have not been identified, demanded $300 worth of the online currency Bitcoin per computer to release files from encryption.

Payment is demanded within three days or the price is doubled, and if none is received within seven days the locked files will be deleted, according to the screen message.

He urged companies not to give into the hackers: "Do not pay ransomware ransom - unless there is a threat to life".

"It only guarantees that the malicious actors receive the victim's money, and in some cases, their banking information".

Nonetheless, the experts say such widespread attacks are tough to pull off.

"The problem is the larger organizations are still running on old, no longer supported operating systems", said Lawrence Abrams, a New York-based blogger who runs BleepingComputer.com. Europol said that the malware attack was of an unprecedented level , and that the numbers were still increasing.

Microsoft said the situation was "painful" and that it was taking "all possible actions to protect our customers". And while Microsoft said it had already released a security update to patch the vulnerability one month earlier, the sequence of events fed speculation that the NSA hadn't told the USA tech giant about the security risk until after it had been stolen.

"GPs, of course, can still diagnose and treat patients without using computers but we ask our patients to bear with us if routine services such as repeat prescriptions and appointment booking services are slightly disrupted this week", she said.

South Korea has been mostly spared from the global cyber chaos that crippled scores of governments and companies in 150 countries.

Also hit were Deutsche Bahn, the Russian Central Bank, Russian Railways, Russia's Interior Ministry, Megafon and Telefónica.

Symantec said the majority of organisations affected were in Europe. Universities in Greece and Italy also were hit.

Microsoft is now confirming that the WannaCrypt exploits used in the attack on Friday were drawn from the trove of exploits stolen from the NSA.

Other reports put that number as high as 200,000.

"You're only safe if you patch ASAP", wrote the researcher on Twitter.

As well as drawing criticism from Microsoft over governmental stockpiling of vulnerabilities, the widespread success of the ransomware has turned WannaCry into a live demonstration of just how unsafe poor patching and backup practices can be.

As described in the researcher's blog post, rather than acting as a "kill switch", the domain name inclusion was likely "badly thought out anti-analysis". "Now I should probably sleep".

The security flaw is reportedly one of the same zero-day vulnerabilities released as part of the Shadow Brokers NSA cache.

G7 finance ministers meeting in Italy vowed to unite against cyber crime, as it represented a growing threat to their economies and should be tackled as a priority.

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