Europol says cyberattack that hit NHS is 'biggest in history and unique'

Europol says cyberattack that hit NHS is 'biggest in history and unique'

Australia and New Zealand appeared to have escaped largely unscathed as they woke up for their first business day since a massive ransomware worm hit thousands of computer systems around the world, disrupting operations at hospitals, shops and schools.

The WannaCry ransomware started taking over users' files on Friday, demanding $300 (£230) to restore access.

Microsoft released a patch for this vulnerability in March, but networks that had neglected to upgrade their systems were still vulnerable to attack.

But it added that GP practices across the region are "still asking patients to consider delaying contacting their practice unless they really need to for the next few days to allow time to clear backlogs caused by the cyber-attack".

Backing-up your data in multiple locations, including offline.

Ensure that any anti-virus products are up-to-date and active, and set up regular auto-scans. Unfortunately, the patch won't help computers that are already infected.

It was leaked as part of a document dump, according to researchers at the Moscow-based computer security firm Kaspersky Lab.

"In particular, making sure that our data is properly backed up and making sure that we are using the software patches, the anti-virus patches that are sent out regularly by manufacturers".

All outgoing and incoming emails should be scanned for viruses, and employees should be educated on identifying potentially unsafe links and emails.

Security firm Digital Shadows said on Sunday that transactions totalling US$32,000 had taken place through Bitcoin addresses used by the ransomware. If the update had been applied across the NHS, it would have stopped or at least curtailed the spread of the attack.

What should I do if I have been hacked?

Department of Homeland Security: A Homeland Security official said Monday that a "small number" of infrastructure systems were hit by the attack, but that none of the disruption was "significant".

People seeking medical treatment were still being redirected from two hospitals in Hertfordshire and Essex yesterday after the ransomware virus - which affected 150 countries - brought IT services to a halt.

Hackers threatened to keep computers disabled unless victims paid a ransom to receive a decryption key. "These attacks underscore the fact that vulnerabilities will be exploited not just by our security agencies, but by hackers and criminals around the world", said Patrick Toomey of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Microsoft distributed a patch two months ago that protected computers from such an attack, but in many organizations it was likely lost among the blizzard of updates and patches that large corporations and governments strain to manage.

"WannaCry, on the other hand, only asks you to make a payment, and then... wait".

An official from Cybersecurity Administration China (CAC) told local media on Monday that while the ransomware was still spreading and had affected industry and government computer systems, the spread was slowing.

Eiichi Moriya, a cybersecurity expert and professor at Japan's Meiji University, warned that paying the ransom would not guarantee a fix. And this may never be known entirely.

Lynne Owens, director-general of Britain's National Crime Agency, said there was no indication of a second surge in the cyberattack but warned, "That doesn't mean there won't be one". Many of those were unpatched, and an easy mark for WannaCry.