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14 May 2017, 01:18 | Katie Chavez
Fast-moving cyberattacks wreak havoc worldwide
The cyberattack that spread malicious software around the world, shutting down networks at hospitals, banks and government agencies, was stemmed by a young British researcher and an low-cost domain registration, with help from another 20-something security engineer in the U.S.
It could have been much worse if not for a young cybersecurity researcher who helped to halt its spread by accidentally activating a so-called "kill switch" in the malicious software. "There's no barrier to do it tomorrow to 100 million computers".
He began analyzing a sample of the malicious software and noticed its code included a hidden web address that wasn't registered.
Across an ocean, Darien Huss, a 28-year-old research engineer for the cybersecurity firm Proofpoint, was doing his own analysis.
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.
Users of old Windows systems can now download a patch to protect them from this week's massive ransomware attack.
"The malware's name is WCry, but analysts were also using variants such as WannaCry".
It was not yet known who perpetrated Friday's attacks.
"We are now seeing more than 75,000 detections.in 99 countries", Jakub Kroustek of the security firm Avast said in a blog post around 2000 GMT.
The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), a nodal agency under the ministry to deal with cyber security emergencies, said a new ransomware named Wannacry was spreading widely.
These hackers "have caused enormous amounts of disruption- probably the biggest ransomware cyberattack in history", said Graham Cluley, a veteran of the anti-virus industry in Oxford, England. The NSA tools were stolen by hackers and dumped on the internet.
A malware tracking map showed "WannaCry" infections were widespread.
The global cyber attack forced a European carmaker to halt some production lines, hit Russian computers with more than half of suspected infections and struck schools in China and hospitals in Indonesia, though it appeared to be dying down on Saturday.
Hospitals in areas across Britain found themselves without access to their computers or phone systems.
In the U.S., FedEx Corp. reported that its Windows computers were "experiencing interference" from malware, but wouldn't say if it had been hit by ransomware.
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It combined a known and highly unsafe security hole in Microsoft Windows, tardy users who didn't apply Microsoft's March software fix, and a software design that allowed the malware to spread quickly once inside university, business and government networks.
Britain's home secretary said one in five of 248 National Health Service groups had been hit.
"We are not able to tell you who is behind that attack", Amber Rudd, Britain's home secretary, told the BBC today.
In a major cyber attack, almost hundred countries, including India, were hit which experts said was carried out with the help of "cyber weapons" stolen from the US National Security Agency.
And all this may be just a taste of what's coming, a cyber security expert warned. 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.
This is already believed to be the biggest online extortion attack ever recorded, disrupting services in nations as diverse as the U.S., Russia, Ukraine, Spain and India.
The attacks will "require a complex global investigation to identify the culprits", the agency, which is working with countries and companies hit by the attacks, said in a statement on Saturday. 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.
Europol's European Cybercrime Centre said it was working closely with national law enforcement agencies and private security firms to combat the threat and help victims.
While Microsoft did release patches for supported versions of Windows, it appears that the attackers did target Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and earlier versions of Windows only.
"One thing that is very important to note is our sinkholing only stops this sample and there is nothing stopping them removing the domain check and trying again, so it's incredibly important that any unpatched systems are patched as quickly as possible", he warned. Short of paying, options for these individuals and companies are usually limited to recovering data files from a backup, if available, or living without them.
Governments, companies and security experts from China to the United Kingdom today raced to contain the fallout from an audacious cyberattack that spread quickly across the globe, raising fears that people would not be able to meet ransom demands before their data are destroyed.
The security holes it exploits were disclosed weeks ago by TheShadowBrokers, a mysterious group that published what it said are hacking tools used by the NSA.
The severity of Wanacrypt has been so devastating that Microsoft developed a fix for out of date versions of its Windows operating systems.
Heintz reported from Moscow and Breed from Raleigh, N.C.
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