Ransomware attack should be wake-up call for governements

British hospitals said they were forced to divert emergencies on Friday after a suspected national cyber attack

The attack on the National Health Service seemed perhaps the most audacious of the attacks, because it had life-or-death implications for hospitals and ambulance services.

Hospitals in areas across Britain found themselves without access to their computers or phone systems. "At this stage, we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed".

(AP Photo/Matt Dunham). An exterior view shows the main entrance of St Bartholomew's Hospital, in London, one of the hospitals whose computer systems were affected by a cyberattack, Friday, May 12, 2017. Doctors' practices and pharmacies reported similar problems.

Computer security experts said the current attack could have been much worse but for the quick action of a young researcher in Britain who discovered a vulnerability in the ransomware itself, known as WanaCryptor 2.0. Although Microsoft released fixes in March, the attackers counted on many organizations not getting around to applying those fixes.

This weekend's global online extortion attack reinforces the need for businesses and other large organizations to update their computer operating systems and security software, cybersecurity experts said. In the United Kingdom, it was found that hundreds of thousands of NHS computers were still running on out-of-date Windows versions that have stopped receiving security updates from Microsoft. In what some are calling an unusual step, Microsoft announced that it would roll out updates to users of older operating systems "that no longer receive mainstream support", such as Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003.

Nissan: The carmaker said in a statement that "some Nissan entities were recently targeted" but "there has been no major impact on our business".

A massive cyberattack brought computers to a halt on Friday and Saturday, the malware affecting over one lakh computers and systems in almost 150 nations worldwide, ranging from the UK National Health Service to a French carmaker with an alliance plant in Chennai, the German railways, the Andhra Pradesh police and entire Russian systems. It initially said 16 NHS organizations had reported being hit, and more reports came in as the day went on.

As part of a comprehensive information governance program, ensure that you have a thorough incident response plan in place that contemplates the occurrence of a ransomware attack.

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The massive ransomware attacks that started late Friday have locked people out of their computers and demanded hundreds of dollars from the users before they could regain control. Brad Smith, who is Microsoft's chief legal officer, said Sunday in a blog post that his company, its customers and the government all share the blame.

They advised those whose networks have been effectively shut down by the ransomware attack not to make the payment demanded - the equivalent of $300, paid in the digital currency bitcoin, delivered to a likely untraceable destination that consists merely of a lengthy string of letters and numbers.

Spain's Telefonica was among the companies hit.

"Obviously, they want those tools in order to spy on people of interest, on other countries, to conduct surveillance", Cluley said. "It's stressful enough for someone going through recovery or treatment for cancer".

"We will get a decryption tool eventually, but for the moment, it's still a live threat and we're still in disaster recovery mode", Rob Wainwright, the head of the European Union's law enforcement agency Europol, told CNN's Becky Anderson on Sunday.

President Donald Trump on Friday night ordered his homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, to convene an "emergency meeting" to assess the threat posed by the global attack, a senior administration official told Reuters.

Britain's National Health Service is a source of pride for many Britons but faces substantial budget issues and has had previous problems with its huge IT system.

The attack involved ransomware, a kind of malware that encrypts data and locks out the user. "I hope that if another attack occurs, the damage will be a lot less".

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