Computers in Europe, Asia Fall Victim to Ransomware Attack

A road sign showing the direction of a hospital with an Accident and Emergency department is seen in west London

Security firm Kaspersky Labs discovered more than 74 countries have been hit with this ransomware in the last 10 hours.

The New York Times is reporting that Britain's National Health Service, or NHS, is seeing a ransomware attack on at least 16 hospitals.

"To ensure that all back-up processes and procedures were put in place quickly, the trust declared a major internal incident to make sure that patients already in the trust's hospitals continued to receive the care they need".

The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom has confirmed that 16 different NHS organizations have been affected by the brand-new Wanna Decryptor 2.0 ransomware-while it has emerged that the campaign is global and coordinated, with tens of thousands of attacks on various sectors in just the last few hours.

Associated Press reported that the companies targeted were not identified, but telecommunications company Telefonica said it detected a "cybersecurity incident" that affected computers of some employees.

An extensive cyberattack struck computers across a wide swath of Europe and Asia on Friday, and strained the public health system in Britain, where doctors were blocked from patient files and emergency rooms were forced to divert patients.

It's not clear if the incidents are related, although both have reportedly led to widespread ransomware infections and caused multiple organizations to deactivate all endpoints as a precautionary measure.

The ransomware has hit hospitals in London, Blackburn, Nottingham, Cumbria and Hertfordshire, according to the BBC.

Testifying to a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Adm. Rogers also raised eyebrows by discussing a "worst-case scenario" cyberattack on critical infrastructure that would go beyond revealing data - such as a WikiLeaks hack - and would entail the manipulation of vital national data on a "massive scale".

Ransomware, and similar hacking techniques, have become more common in recent years as the world becomes more digital and virtually interconnected. The virus infects computer files and then demands money to unblock them.

Russian media also said that the Investigative Committee, the nation's top criminal investigation agency, also has been targeted. Some universities in Italy are also reported to be crippled by the ransomware attack, which is now unfolding in Czech Republic, Russia, Japan, Taiwan, Ukraine and many other countries.

Several individual health service trusts in England reported severe problems with their computer systems and instructed patients to avoid their hospitals except in emergencies.

"The investigation is at an early stage but we believe the malware variant is Wanna decryptor", an NHS Digital spokeswoman says.

In a statement, the NHS said: "A number of NHS organizations have reported to NHS Digital that they have been affected by a ransomware attack which is affecting a number of different organizations".

The group said in a statement that the attack had "global scope", affecting organisations in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Mexico.

Pictures on Twitter showed computers with messages saying: "Ooops, your files have been encrypted!"

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