Microsoft warns: Ransomware cyber-attack a wake-up call

(P. Goezelt/dpa via AP).

(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.

Labour's shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, in a letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said concerns were repeatedly flagged about outdated computer systems.

A Japanese nonprofit says has computers at 600 locations had been hit in the global "ransomware" cyberattack.

What is a ransomware attack?

In Britain, where the WannaCry virus first raised global alarm when it caused hospitals to divert ambulances last Friday, some victims were ignoring official advice and paying the US$300 (S$420) ransom demanded by the cyber criminals to unlock their computers.

Although the spread of a "ransomware" that locked up more than 200,000 computers in over 150 countries had slowed, the respite might only be brief as there could be new havoc on Monday when employees return to work, cyber-security experts said, according to Reuters.

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Darien Huss, a 28-year-old research engineer who assisted the anonymous British researcher lauded a hero, said he was "still anxious for what's to come in the next few days because it really would not be so hard for the actors behind this to re-release their code without a kill switch or with a better kill switch".

The attacks, which experts said affected dozens of countries, used a technique known as ransomware that locks users' files unless they pay the attackers a designated sum in the virtual Bitcoin currency. However, he said it's only a matter of time before a malevolent version exists.

"We haven't fully dodged this bullet at all until we're patched against the vulnerability itself", Kalember said.

Russian Federation and the United Kingdom were among the worst-hit countries by the virus, which took control of users' files and demanding payments to release them. So far, not many people have paid the ransom demanded by the malware, Europol spokesman Jan Op Gen Oorth told The Associated Press.

Germany's national railway was also affected by the attack, as was FedEx in the U.S.

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

Had it not been for a young cybersecurity researcher's accidental discovery of a so-called "kill switch", the malicious software likely would have spread much farther and faster.

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Tehan has confirmed that the Australian government is taking "all the necessary steps" to protect Australian businesses and organisations from the attack. The server operates as a "sinkhole" to collect information about malware - and in Friday's case kept the malware from escaping.

He also suggested to update the systems as soon as possible in twitter. "It can be tough to tell which patch is important, until it is too late".

The ransomware exploits older versions of Microsoft's operating system software, such as Windows XP. Cybersecurity experts say the unknown hackers who launched the attacks used a vulnerability that was exposed in NSA documents leaked online.

Mr Smith said that Microsoft had released a Windows security update that would have stopped the attack but many users were yet to run the update.

Two months after Microsoft issued its security patch, thousands of computers remained vulnerable to the WannaCry attack. Unfortunately, the patch won't help computers that are already infected. "It's a handy thing to have, but it's a risky thing to have".

She added: "All GPs surgeries did open, though some of them had to use pen and paper. And that's what's happening right now". Allen G. Breed from Raleigh, North Carolina, Brian Melley in Los Angeles and AP Technology Writer Anick Jesdanun in NY contributed.

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