RECENT POSTS: 

FOLLOW ME:

  • Facebook Clean Grey
  • Twitter Clean Grey
  • Instagram Clean Grey

Global extortion cyberattack hits dozens of nations


SOURCE: LONDON (AP) — A huge extortion cyberattack hit dozens of nations Friday, holding computer data for ransom at hospitals, telecommunications firms and other companies. The attack appeared to exploit a vulnerability purportedly identified for use by the U.S. National Security Agency and later leaked to the internet.

The attack hit Britain’s health service, forcing affected hospitals to close wards and emergency rooms. Related attacks were reported in Spain, Portugal and Russia. Two security firms — Kaspersky Lab and Avast — said they had identified the malware behind the attack in upward of 70 countries, although both said the attack has hit Russia hardest.

The Russian Interior Ministry has confirmed it was hit by the “ransomware” attack, which encrypts data on infected computers and demands payment, usually via the digital currency bitcoin, to release it.

Britain’s health service was also hit hard Friday as the attack froze computers at hospitals across the country,

shutting down wards, closing emergency rooms and bringing medical treatments to a screeching halt.

Hospitals in areas across Britain found themselves without access to their computers or phone systems.

Many canceled all routine procedures and asked patients not to come to the hospitals unless it was an emergency.

Some chemotherapy patients were even sent home because their records could not be accessed.

Most of the affected hospitals were in England, but several facilities in Scotland also reported being hit. Doctors’ practices and pharmacies reported similar problems.

As similar widespread ransomware attacks were reported in Spain, Romania and elsewhere, experts warned that online extortion attempts by hackers are a growing menace.

Hospitals, with their often outdated IT systems and trove of confidential patient data, are a particularly tempting target.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said there was no evidence that patient data had been compromised in the attack, and that it had not specifically targeted the National Health Service.

“It’s an international attack and a number of countries and organizations have been affected,” she said.