UK working to restore hospital systems after cyberattack

The Spanish government said several companies including Telefonica had been targeted in ransomware cyberattack that affected the Windows operating system

The Spanish government said several companies including Telefonica had been targeted in ransomware cyberattack that affected the Windows operating system

Britain's National Health Service does not have any evidence that patient data was breached following a ransomware attack, the agency said. Hospitals are notoriously slow in applying security fixes, in part because of how disruptive it is to take patient-facing equipment and databases offline.

While Friday's attack could damage the reputation of Microsoft's security, it's likely to be limited, said Sid Parakh, a fund manager at Becker Capital Management, which owns Microsoft stock. Researchers at security software maker Avast said they had observed 57,000 infections in 99 countries with Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan the top targets.

"For so many organizations in the same day to be hit, this is unprecedented", he said.

Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab detected that variants of a malware called "WannaCry" were used that encrypted the files.

And all this may be just a taste of what's coming, a leading cyber security expert warned.

The ransomware encrypts data on the computer using an encryption key that only the attacker knows.

State agencies and major companies around the world were left reeling by the attacks which blocked access to files and demanded ransom money, forcing shutdowns of computer systems.

"Looking at the trends, it was going to happen", he said. "There's no barrier to do it tomorrow to 100 million computers".

"Ransomware, like the name suggests, is when your files are held for ransom", said Peter Reiher, an adjunct professor at UCLA who specializes in computer science and cybersecurity.

Europol also warned a "complex global investigation" was required "to identify the culprits". The NSA tools were stolen by hackers and dumped on the internet.

It spreads from computer to computer as it finds exposed targets.

In Spain, the attacks did not disrupt the provision of services or networks operations of the victims, the government said in a statement. When asked to confirm that Wana Decryptor has struck in the US, and at what scale, Acting Deputy Press Secretary Scott McConnell did not provide specifics. Computers already affected will not be helped by the solution.

Chris Wysopal, of the software security firm Veracode, said criminal organisations were probably behind the attack, given how quickly the malware spread.

A hacking group called Shadow Brokers released the malware in April claiming to have discovered the flaw from the NSA, Kaspersky said.

Before Friday's attack, Microsoft had made fixes for older systems, such as 2001's Windows XP, available only to mostly larger organizations that paid extra for extended technical support.

Andrew Barratt, managing principal of Coalfire, a company which provides cybersecurity risk assessments to the healthcare sector, said that many NHS hospitals used PCs with outdated Windows operating systems, which have makes them easy to attack.

Hospitals across Britain found themselves without access to their computers or phone systems.

'The Home Secretary has responsibility for these issues but the Government is ensuring through our National Cyber Security Centre that we are giving this our full attention and working with all the organisations concerned to resolve it'.

Spokesperson Irina Volk was quoted by the Interfax news agency Saturday as saying the problem had been "localised" and that no information was compromised.

A spokesman for the Russian Health Ministry, Nikita Odintsov, said on Twitter that the cyberattacks on his ministry were "effectively repelled". Officials played down the incident, saying the attacks had been contained.

Germany's national railway says departure and arrival display screens at its stations were affected Friday night, but there was no impact on train services.

French carmaker Renault also announced it was attacked. Radio Slovenia said Saturday the Revoz factory in the southeastern town of Novo Mesto stopped working Friday evening to stop the malware from spreading - and was working with the central office in France to resolve the problem.

Elsewhere in Europe, the attack hit Spain's Telefonica, a global broadband and telecommunications company, and knocked ticketing offline for Norway's IF Odd, a 132-year-old soccer club.

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