Saturday, 22 July 2017

Global alert to prepare for fresh cyber attacks

WannaCry-infection

LONDON: Businesses must brace for further cyber attacks this week on a potentially “significant scale”, British intelligence officials warned on Sunday, less than 48 hours after the debilitating WannaCry infection swept across the world. Current data show more than 1.3m computer systems are still vulnerable to infection by WannaCry, which has paralysed hospitals, disrupted transport networks and immobilised businesses, according to cyber security analysts. So far, 200,000 computers across 150 countries are known to have been infected in the first wave of the WannaCry cyber attack, Europol said on Sunday.

“The recent attack is at an unprecedented level and will require a complex international investigation to identify the culprits,” the European police agency added. Intelligence agencies in Europe and the US have spent the weekend warning large companies and organisations that the threat from the ransomware – a category of malicious software that encrypts infected machines’ hard drives and demands payment to release the data again – may escalate. “We are aware of attempts to attack other UK centres beyond the health service,” Ciaran Martin, director of the National Cyber Security Centre, an arm of the electronic intelligence agency GCHQ said.

He said there was no evidence WannaCry had been updated by its creators to address the element in its coding that halted its spread late on Friday. Officials believe WannaCry is the creation of a criminal group. “With the National Crime Agency we have an around-the-clock effort to work out who is responsible,” Mr Martin said. “We have a number of leads but we can’t comment on them.”

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