Theresa May confirms major cyber attacks strike worldwide

Experts say that the ransomware code is a "hunter module" that spreads across the Internet seeking computer systems that are vulnerable to its attack.

Many cancelled all routine procedures and asked patients not to come to the hospitals unless it was an emergency. He says "for so many organizations in the same day to be hit, this is unprecedented".

A statement from NHS Digital said: "A number of NHS organisations have reported to NHS Digital that they have been affected by a "ransomware" attack.

This is not targeted at the NHS, it's an global attack and a number of countries and organisations have been affected", said Prime Minister Theresa May. But there's no evidence so far that patient data has been accessed, NHS Digital said.

The problem appeared to begin Friday morning when hospitals in the United Kingdom were crippled by a large-scale cyberattack, which forced operations to be canceled and ambulances to be diverted.

He said most likely it occurred this time because some of the hospitals and other organizations affected may not have applied a patch that Microsoft released or they are using outdated operating systems no longer supported by the software giant.

A report from a security firm indicates more than 45,000 malicious computer attacks in 74 countries in the past 10 hours. Sixteen NHS organizations were hit, while a large number of Spanish companies were also attacked using ransomware.

A spokesman for NHS Digital, which manages health service cyber security, said: "At this stage, we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed".

The attackers who shut down Britain's National Health Service have demanded $300 worth of the online currency Bitcoin.

Hospitals across Britain found themselves without access to their computers or phone systems.

In Spain, the largest telecommunications company reportedly would have had to pay close to $550,000 to unlock all the encrypted computers hit on its network.

Wana Decryptor exploits a Windows flaw that was patched in Microsoft's Security Bulletin MS17-010 in March.

Doctors at some surgeries were forced to use pen and paper to record patient details following the attack, local media reported.

Krishna Chinthapalli, a registrar at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, warned that British hospitals' old operating systems and store of confidential patient information made them an ideal target for blackmailers.

As well as being careful what you open and being sure of the source, keeping a physically separate back-up of data, such as on an external hard drive, is one way to mitigate the effects of a ransomware attack.

British government officials and intelligence chiefs have repeatedly highlighted the threat to critical infrastructure and the economy from cyberattacks, with the National Cyber Security Centre reporting it had detected 188 "high-level" attacks in just three months. In February 2016, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Centre in California said it had paid a $17,000 ransom to regain control of its computers from hackers.

The chaos in Britain's health system came less than four weeks before a parliamentary election in which national security and the management of the state-run National Health Service (NHS) are important campaign themes.

"Today our engineers added detection and protection against new malicious software known as Ransom:Win32.WannaCrypt", Microsoft said in a statement.

"At ten to five I said to a nurse "this is a bit late for an operation" and she said "there's been a cyber attack" and I said "well go and check". They said the system was down and that they can not transfer anyone till the computer system was back up so he is still in the theatre.

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