Log in, look out: Cyber havoc may grow


Australia's top cybersecurity adviser has warned "this is not game over" after more than 200 000 people across 150 countries were victims one of the biggest "ransomware" attacks in history.

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 U.S. giant. "The numbers are going up, I am anxious about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn (on) their machines on Monday morning", Europol director Rob Wainwright told Britain's ITV.

"We've never seen anything like this", the head of the European Union's policing agency told Britain's ITV television yesterday.

"At the moment, we are in the face of an escalating threat".

French police said there were "more than 75,000 victims" around the globe, but cautioned that the number could increase "significantly".

Cyber security firm Avast has revealed over 75,000 similar attacks took place in almost 100 countries.

This cyber attack locked the computers and also demanded ransom for its recovery.

Bitcoin, the world's most-used virtual currency, allows anonymous transactions via heavily encrypted codes.

BBC analysis of three accounts linked to the ransom demands suggests about $38,000 (£29,400) had been paid by Monday morning.

A GLOBAL cyber attack that has struck computers across Europe and Asia is believed to have infected its first Australian business, the federal government says.

The tools were made public by a hacking group called the Shadow Brokers.

Microsoft chief Brad Smith said the attack was a sign for individuals, companies and governments to step up their cyber security game.

In the United Kingdom, critics said the government had known about the threat of a cyber-attack for some time, but hospitals had not made the right upgrades to protect themselves.

"An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the USA military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen".

Microsoft distributed the patch two months ago, which could have forestalled much of the attack, but in many organizations it was likely lost among the blizzard of updates and patches that large corporations and governments strain to manage.

The attack is unique, according to Wainwright, because it combines ransomware with a worm function, meaning once one machine is infected, the entire internal network is scanned and other vulnerable machines are infected.

Ransomware spreads easily when it encounters unpatched or outdated software.

India was said to be among the countries worst affected in the attack with data from anti-virus provider Kaspersky showing five per cent of all affected systems were in India.

Though Australian businesses were blessed in the sense the attack was launched after-business hours and on the weekend our time, Hunt believes there's no reason why Australian businesses wouldn't be affected by the still-spreading virus and says updating your system is absolutely critical.

A spokesman said: "People who have GP appointments should turn up as normal, but please bear in mind that your practice may not be able to access information required to meet all of your needs, you might be asked to return at a later date and things might take longer than usual".

Germany's national railway said Saturday that departure and arrival display screens at its stations were affected, but there was no impact on actual train services.

In a statement posted on its website on Sunday (14 May), it said that although all of its hospitals remain open for emergency care, some ambulances are diverted to neighbouring hospitals.