A global ransomware attack is holding more than 60,000 computers hostage. Banks, telephone companies and hospitals have all been ensnared in the worldwide hack, with the malware locking down computers while demanding a hefty sum for freedom.
The attack has hit thousands of computers across China, Russia, Spain, Italy and Vietnam, but the UK hospitals have attracted the most attention because real lives at risk while their devices are locked down.
IT systems and phone lines in National Health Service hospitals were locked up on Friday, in a coordinated attack across the world. The East and North Hertfordshire NHS trust updated its website shortly after the attack, telling visitors that they were “currently experiencing significant problems with our IT and telephone network.”
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Several experts monitoring the situation have linked the infections to vulnerabilities released by a group known as The Shadow Brokers, which recently claimed to have dumped hacking tools stolen from the US National Security Agency (NSA).
A patch for the vulnerability was released by Microsoft in March, but many systems may not have had the update installed. Some security researchers have pointed out that the infections seem to be deployed via a worm – a program that spreads by itself between computers.
Another firm that confirmed it had been caught out was delivery company FedEx, though it did not clarify in which territories it had been hit. “Like many other companies, FedEx is experiencing interference with some of our Windows-based systems caused by malware,” it said in a statement. “We are implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible.”