Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Industry | By Dora Warner

Everything You Need to Know About the WannaCry Ransomware Attack

The WannaCry ransomware demanded $300 worth of Bitcoin to restore ransomed files, and warned that files would be deleted in a week's time.

Experts were scrambling to determine who was behind the attack, which exploited a security flaw in older versions of Microsoft's Windows operating software.

British technology experts worked through the night to patch the computer systems of the health service after the ransomware worm forced dozens of hospitals to cancel some operations and appointments, Security Minister Ben Wallace said on Monday.

Digital Health News understands that NHS Wales also managed to avoid hospitals being hit by Friday's cyber security attacks.

Thousands of computers around 99 countries, including the UK, US, China, Russia, Spain and Italy, were said to be affected in the attack.

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"They have been working I know through the night nearly to make sure patches are in place to make sure that hopefully the NHS services can get back to normal", Wallace told BBC Radio.

Later on Friday, it was revealed that the attack had spread to 75 countries, hitting Russia's interior ministry, the Spanish telecom giant Telefonica and the United States delivery firm FedEx. Microsoft released a security update in March to protect against WannaCrypt but Windows XP was excluded from the patch.

"Over the last 18 months, we have reduced the proportion of devices in the NHS that use the most vulnerable platform - XP - from 20% to less than 5%", he said, but he admitted "lessons would be learned".

Attackers target users via an email phishing scam, according to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team.

The enterprise-security division of Qihoo 360, one of China's leading suppliers of anti-virus software, said 29,372 institutions ranging from government offices to universities, ATMs and hospitals had been "infected" by the outbreak as of late Saturday.

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The computers were locked down in exchange for ransom payments, said Mashable.

In a blog, he described how he stopped the spread of the virus by purchasing a web domain for pounds 8 and by redirecting it elsewhere.

He said: 'I am going to see my patients, but of course we cannot access any records and can't prescribe'.

Petients have been told they can attend their GP surgeries as normal following last week's computer cyber attack - though some facilities were still seeing difficulties on Monday.

Material from Reuters was used in this report.

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