The NHS has been hit by a major cyber attack hitting computers, phones and emergency bleepers in hospitals and GP surgeries - and pop-ups like this one have appeared demanding a ransom
The technological meltdown began earlier on Friday afternoon in Britain when more than 40 NHS organisations including hospitals and GP surgeries were hit by the virus.
But with the virus spreading at a rate of five million emails per hour, tens of thousands of victims have now been reported in more than 74 countries including the US, Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Mexico.
Russia is thought to have been among the worst hit by the ransomware amid reports that 1,000 computers in the country's Interior Ministry were affected, but sources say no information was leaked.
Ministry spokeswoman Irina Volk told Russian news agencies it had 'recorded a virus attack on the ministry's personal computers controlled by a Windows operating system.'
RANSOMWARE: THE CYBER ATTACK THAT CRIPPLED THE WORLD
What is ransomware?Ransomware is a type of malicious software that criminals use to attack computer systems.Hackers often demand the victim to pay ransom money to access their files or remove harmful programs.The aggressive attacks dupe users into clicking on a fake link – whether it's in an email or on a fake website, causing an infection to corrupt the computer.In some instances, adverts for pornographic website will repeatedly appear on your screen, while in others, a pop-up will state that a piece of your data will be destroyed if you don't pay.In the case of the NHS attack, the ransomware used was called Wanna Decryptor or 'WannaCry' Virus.
What is the WannaCry virus?The WannaCry virus targets Microsoft's widely used Windows operating system.The virus encrypts certain files on the computer and then blackmails the user for money in exchange for the access to the files.It leaves the user with only two files: Instructions on what to do next and the Wanna Decryptor program itself.When opened the software tells users that their files have been encrypted and gives them a few days to pay up or their files will be deleted.It can quickly spread through an entire network of computers in a business or hospital, encrypting files on every PC.
How to protect yourself from ransomwareThankfully, there are ways to avoid ransomware attacks, and Norton Antivirus has compiled a list of prevention methods:1. Use reputable antivirus software and a firewall2. Back up your computer often3. Set up a popup blocker4. Be cautious about clicking links inside emails or on suspicious websites5. If you do receive a ransom note, disconnect from the Internet6. Alert authorities
Leading international shipper FedEx Corp was among the companies whose Microsoft Corp Windows systems were affected. They said they were 'implementing remediation steps'.
The German rail system was also experiencing issues due to the ransomware. Photos surfaced on social media appeared to show ticketing computers at train stations having been affected by the cyber attack.
In Spain, the Telefonica mobile phone network, power firm Iberdrola and utility provider Gas Natural all suffered from the virus.
There’s a massive ransomware attack happening around the world — here’s how to protect yourself pic.twitter.com/1fGtPDEvN3— Business Insider (@businessinsider) May 13, 2017
Iberdrola and Gas Natural, along with Vodafone's unit in Spain, asked staff to turn off computers or cut off internet access in case they had been compromised.
Security teams at large financial services firms and businesses were reviewing plans for defending like Telefonica get hit is going to get everybody worried.against cyber attacks, according to executives with private cyber security firms.Chris Wysopal, chief technology officer with cyber security firm Veracode, said: 'Seeing a large telco
'Now ransomware is affecting larger companies with more sophisticated security operations.'
The German rail system was also experiencing issues due to the ransomware. Photos surfaced on social media showing ticket machines at train stations having been affected. dailymail
In December last year it was revealed about 90 per cent of NHS Trusts were still running Windows XP, two and a half years after Microsoft stopped supporting the system.
Citrix, an American software company, sent a Freedom of Information request to 63 NHS Trusts, 42 of which responded. It revealed that 24 Trusts were unsure when they would even upgrade, The Inquirer reported.
Windows XP was released more than 15 years ago and is now particularly vulnerable to viruses. Microsoft stopped providing virus warnings for the ageing Windows XP in 2015.
Ransomware: How do hackers take your data hostage?
'NSA malware' released by Shadow Brokers hacker group....& turns up again on May 12th.. https://t.co/e2H1a2ugUN— Eimear Lowe (@eimearlowe) May 12, 2017