Ransomware: Europol chief warns of another 'imminent attack'

Cyber Attack

An worldwide manhunt was well under way for the plotters behind what was being described as the world's biggest-ever computer ransom assault.

Meanwhile, Indian Government's cyber security arm CERT-In has alerted vital institutions including RBI, stock markets and NPCI against the latest cyber attack that has infected thousands of systems globally.

The virus, which took control of users' files, spread to 100 countries, including India, the UK, Spain, France and Russian Federation.

Wainwright said Europol provided free downloads of decryption programs for most ransomware.

Europol Executive, Rob Wainwright described the attack as "unprecedented in its scale" and warned that more people could be affected in the coming weeks.

With more than 200,000 victims in 150 different countries, many are braced for more attacks to come.

"We're in the face of an escalating threat, the numbers are going up", he said, adding that the current attack was unprecedented.

Earlier on Sunday, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said authorities were working to confirm if the reports were linked to the global attack.

Russia's interior ministry said some of its computers had been hit by a "virus attack" and that efforts were underway to destroy it.

"It only guarantees that the malicious actors receive the victim's money, and in some cases, their banking information".

Microsoft condemns NSA weaponization of malware after WannaCry attacks
On Sunday, Microsoft's legal officer blamed governments for accumulating software defects and not warning companies about them. MalwareTechBlog initiated a kill switch on Friday for the first variant that locked down 20 percent of the United Kingdom .

"We've seen what happens when the US NSA (National Security Agency) ... develops hacking tools, effectively weapons for breaking in to ordinary people's computers then loses control of one of those exploits that has then been effectively weaponised by a criminal organisation that is now seeking to ransom people", he told reporters.

The ransomware, called "WannaCry", is spread by taking advantage of a Windows vulnerability that Microsoft released a security patch for in March.

United States software firm Symantec said the majority of organisations affected were in Europe.

The companies and government agencies targeted were diverse. In an interview in the UK, Wainwright said that the banks had learned from painful experience and that other sectors of key strategic concern need to take notice and act.

Major companies that includes sixteen National Health Service organsisations in the U.K. FedEx, telecom companies Telefonica of Spain and Megafon of Russian Federation were also hit.

French carmaker Renault was forced to stop production at sites in France, Slovenia and Romania, while FedEx said it was "implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible".

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn said some electronic signs at stations announcing arrivals and departures were infected.

Chinese media reported Sunday that students at several universities were hit, blocking access to their thesis papers and dissertation presentations.

"Expect to hear a lot more about this tomorrow morning when users are back in their offices and might fall for phishing emails" or other as yet unconfirmed ways the worm may propagate, said Christian Karam, a Singapore-based security researcher.

MalwareTech, who wants to remain anonymous, was hailed as an "accidental hero" after registering a domain name to track the spread of this ransomware, which actually ended up halting it.

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