Cyber attack in 150 countries

by

May 15, 2017

LONDON (AP):

An unprecedented global 'ransomware' attack has hit at least 100,000 organisations in 150 countries, Europe's police agency said Sunday and predicted that more damage may be seen today as people return to work and switch on their computers.

The attack that began Friday is believed to be the biggest online extortion attack ever recorded, spreading chaos by locking computers that run Britain's hospital network, Germany's national railway, and scores of other companies, factories and government agencies worldwide.

"It was essentially an indiscriminate attack across the world," Europol director Rob Wainwright said. "It's a massive reminder to sectors right across the world cybersecurity should be a topline strategic priority."

HIGHER NUMBERS

Jan Op Gen Oorth, spokesman for the Netherlands-based Europol, said the number of individuals who have fallen victim to the cyberextortion attack could be much higher.

He said it was too early to say who is behind the onslaught and what their motivation was. The main challenge for investigators was the fast-spreading capabilities of the malware, he said, adding that so far not many people have paid the ransoms that the virus demands.

The attack held hospitals and other entities hostage by freezing their computers, encrypting their data and demanding money through online bitcoin payment $300 at first, rising to $600 before it destroys files hours later.