Published: Mon, May 15, 2017
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Security expert provides tips following global ransomware attack


On Saturday, Amber Rudd, UK home secretary, said all but six NHS trusts' systems had been restored, but that "there's always more" that could be done to protect against computer viruses.

"Infection of a single computer can end up compromising the entire corporate network", Spain's National Cryptologic Center says.

Cyber security experts, who have been on watch for months for an "Eternal Blue"-based attack, said on Saturday that they expect the computer code to be used in types of cyber attacks beyond extortion campaigns, including efforts to seize control of networks and steal data". Some researchers warn that copycat attacks could follow.

Renault said it had halted auto production at several sites, including Sandouville in northwestern France and plants of Renault-owned Dacia of Romania, on Saturday to prevent the spread of ransomware in its systems.

The US and Russian Federation were among scores of countries affected by the virus, which also hit a Nissan plant in the UK.

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn said some electronic signs at stations announcing arrivals and departures were infected.

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". Europol, the European Union's police agency, said the onslaught was at "an unprecedented level and will require a complex worldwide investigation to identify the culprits".

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Elliptic, a private security firm that investigates ransomware attacks, said that only about $32,000 had been sent to bitcoin addresses listed by the extortionists in ransom demands that flashed on screens of infected computers. The researcher in Britain widely credited with foiling the ransomware's proliferation told Reuters he had not seen any such tweaks yet, "but they will [happen]".

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.

A number of countries and origination have been affected.

Hospitals and doctors" surgeries across England were forced to turn away patients and cancel appointments on Friday after a nationwide "ransomware' cyber attack crippled some computer systems in the state-run health service.

"This was not targeted at the NHS, it's an global attack". "We are implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible", a statement said.

Major global companies said they also came under attack. He said that mobile communications haven't been affected.

It said the attacks were carried out with a version of WannaCry ransomware that encrypted files and prompted a demand for money transfers to free up the system.

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

Darien Huss, a 28-year-old research engineer who helped stop the malware's spread, said he was "still anxious for what's to come in the next few days, because it really would not be so hard for the actors behind this to re-release their code without a kill switch or with a better kill switch". It had issued a patch on March 14 to protect them from Eternal Blue.

Security experts said it appeared to be caused by a self-replicating piece of software that enters companies when employees click on email attachments, then spreads quickly as employees share documents.

WannaCry is not just a ransomware program, it's also a worm.

Authorities in Britain have been braced for cyberattacks in the run-up to the election, as happened during last year's US election and on the eve of the French runoff vote on May 7.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn branded the attackers "a bunch of 21st Century highway robbers" and expressed anger that the Government did not renew a multimillion-pound security package.

On Friday, Russia's Interior and Emergencies Ministries, as well as its biggest bank, Sberbank, said they were targeted by ransomware. It said less than 1 percent of computers were affected, and that the virus was now "localized" and being destroyed.

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