Ransomware cyber-attack a wake-up call - Microsoft warns

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Ransomware cyber-attack a wake-up call - Microsoft warns

There are fears more Australian businesses may have fallen victim to a global cyber attack which hit more than 75,000 computers in Europe and crippled Britain's health system.

The assault, which began Friday and was being described as the biggest-ever cyber ransom attack, struck state agencies and major companies around the world - from Russian banks and British hospitals to FedEx and European auto factories.

The virus tried to infect more computers in Russia than anywhere else, according to an analysis by Kaspersky Lab, a Russian antivirus company.

People outside a Megafon mobile phone shop in Moscow, Russia, on Saturday, May 13, 2017.

The attack targeted Windows computers that had not installed patches released by Microsoft in March, or older machines running software that Microsoft no longer supports, including the 16-year-old Windows XP system, researchers said.

Infected computers appear to largely be out-of-date devices that organizations deemed not worth the price of upgrading or, in some cases, machines involved in manufacturing or hospital functions that proved too hard to patch without possibly disrupting crucial operations, security experts said.

He added that governments around the world should "treat this attack as a wake-up call" and "consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits". According to DPA news agency, Deutsche Bahn's video surveillance technology also was hit.

A company official said films were still being screened as scheduled and the company was investigating.

But on Monday South Korea said just nine cases of ransomware had been found, giving no further details.

The Japan Computer Emergency Response Team Co-ordination Centre said 2,000 computers at 600 companies in Japan had been affected.

Bitcoin, the world's most-used virtual currency, allows anonymous transactions via heavily encrypted codes. Then hours later, it destroyed victims' computer files. But computers and networks that didn't update their systems remained at risk.

Several companies in the cities of Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai were also affected.

Friday, we saw the NHS was being held to ransom, as hospitals were paralysed by Friday evening as operations were cancelled and GP surgeries were locked out their computer systems also.

"We are aware of widespread speculation about the use of Microsoft Windows XP by NHS organisations, who commission IT systems locally depending on population need".

The ransomware, called WannaCry, locks down files on an infected computer and asks the computer's administrator to pay in order to regain control of them.

Barts Health NHS Trust, the largest NHS trust in the country, has said it was continuing to experience IT disruption, leading to delays and cancellations for patients.

The malware also infected many other organizations across the globe, including the computer systems of Russia's Interior Ministry, FedEx Corp a Leading global shipper company, Spain's telecommunication company called Telefonica and a railway operator Deutsche Bahn company from Germany were some of the high-profile targets of - what's called - the biggest Ransomware attack in history.

In Japan, both Nissan and Hitachi reported some units had been affected, while in China energy giant PetroChina said that at some petrol stations customers had been unable to use its payment system.

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