UK Working to Restore Hospital Systems After Cyberattack

Nissan's Sunderland plant hit by cyber attack

Spain's National Cryptologic Centre, which is part of the country's intelligence agency, said on its website that there had been a "massive ransomware attack" against a big number of Spanish organisations affecting Microsoft's Windows operating system.

Hospitals across England and Scotland have been crippled by the global attack, which began on Friday and saw around 45 organisations infiltrated by malicious software. Russian Federation appeared to be the hardest hit, according to security experts, with the country's Interior Ministry confirming it was struck.

Ransomware is a malware that has affected computers in 79 countries.

Indeed, while FedEx Corp. reported that its Windows computers were "experiencing interference" from malware - it wouldn't say if it had been hit by the ransomware - other impacts in the US were not readily apparent on Saturday.

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at the Helsinki-based cybersecurity company F-Secure, called the attack "the biggest ransomware outbreak in history".

Ransomware, or malware which encrypts files on a computer until the victim pays a ransom, has been around for a long time and is an expensive and annoying experience.

Dr Afzal Ashraf, an expert on cyber-security who has previously worked as an adviser to the government, told the BBC it was likely that the malware was spreading when NHS services shared documents and information.

Europol said Saturday that the attack was of an "unprecedented level and requires global investigation".

The ransomware is taking advantage of an exploit called EternalBlue, leaked online in April by hackers- The Shadow Brokers but patched preemptively by Microsoft in March.

The kill switch couldn't help those already infected, however.

By Kaspersky Lab's count, the malware struck at least 74 countries.

"Affected machines have six hours to pay up and every few hours the ransom goes up", said Kurt Baumgartner, the principal security researcher at security firm Kaspersky Lab.

But he says that risk can mean life or death in a hospital, where without the latest Windows security updates, a worm "is just going to sweep through the network like wildfire". Many canceled all routine procedures and asked patients not to come to the hospital unless it was an emergency.

A total of 19 English health organisations reported problems, including hospitals and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in London, Blackpool, Hertfordshire and Derbyshire.

At Royal London Hospital, doctors who wanted to access patient scans to use as part of lessons for medical students could not do so, he said.

"Both staff and patients were frankly pretty appalled that somebody, whoever they are, for commercial gain or otherwise, would attack a health care organization", he said. Britain canceled or delayed treatments for thousands of patients, even people with cancer.

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

Cybersecurity firm Avast identified more than 75,000 ransomware attacks in 99 countries.

Meanwhile, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has led the discussion on NSA's role and responsibility in Friday's extensive cyberattacks, noting that if the NSA had "privately disclosed the flaw used to attack hospitals when they found it, not when they lost it, this may not have happened".

IT systems at Provide Community Interest Trust have been interrupted by the ransomeware.

Ransomware attacks are on the rise around the world. In February 2016, a Los Angeles hospital, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, paid US$17,000 in Bitcoin to hackers who took control of its computers for more than a week.

State agencies and major companies around the world were left reeling by the attacks which blocked access to files and demanded ransom money, forcing shutdowns of computer systems.

Britain's home secretary says about one in five National Health Service trusts have been hit by the worldwide ransomware cyberattack, and that all but six are now back to normal.

"Today, it happened to 10,000 computers", Eisen said.

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