International

Dozens of Countries Hit By Huge Cyberextortion Attack

Yesterday we experienced the largest cyber attack in the history of the world which saw a virus penetrate thousands of computers across the globe including hospitals, businesses, government agencies and more.

The virus extorted money from individuals by threatening to erase all files if the users didn’t follow instructions to pay money to the system.

The hack was created exploding a loophole that the NSA found in Microsoft Windows which was then leaked to the Internet.

Though Microsoft had already issued a fix for the loophole, a majority of users had not installed it yet.

It’s yet another example of how vulnerable world networks are to cyber-terrorism.

Here’s more from the AP…

Dozens of countries were hit with a huge cyberextortion attack Friday that locked up computers and held users’ files for ransom at a multitude of hospitals, companies and government agencies.

It was believed to the biggest attack of its kind ever recorded.

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The malicious software behind the onslaught appeared to exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was supposedly identified by the National Security Agency for its own intelligence-gathering purposes and was later leaked to the internet.

Britain’s national health service fell victim, its hospitals forced to close wards and emergency rooms and turn away patients. Russia appeared to be the hardest hit, according to security experts, with the country’s Interior Ministry confirming it was struck.

All told, several cybersecurity firms said they had identified the malicious software responsible for tens of thousands of attacks in more than 60 countries, including the United States, though its effects in the U.S. did not appear to be widespread, at least in the initial hours.

Computers were infected with what is known as “ransomware” — software that freezes up a machine and flashes a message demanding payment to release the user’s data. In the U.S., FedEx reported that its Windows computers were “experiencing interference” from malware, but wouldn’t say if it had been hit by ransomware.

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at the Helsinki-based cybersecurity company F-Secure, called the attack “the biggest ransomware outbreak in history.”

Security experts said the attack appeared to be caused by a self-replicating piece of software that enters companies and organizations when employees click on email attachments, then spreads quickly internally from computer to computer when employees share documents and other files.

Its ransom demands start at $300 and increase after two hours to $400, $500 and then $600, said Kurt Baumgartner, a security researcher at Kaspersky Lab. Affected users can restore their files from backups, if they have them, or pay the ransom; otherwise they risk losing their data entirely.

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