Global Cyberattack with Ransomware Hits Businesses, Governments in almost 100 Countries

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United Kingdom publication The Guardian reported that as many as 16 National Health Service trusts, some of which oversee several hospitals, were affected in the attack and that hospital staff were unable to access patient records.

A cyber attack which hit Britain's National Health Service (NHS) was declared as a major incident Friday night, with British Prime Minister Theresa May saying it was an global attack.

"The investigation is at an early stage, but we believe the malware variant is Wanna Decryptor", the NHS says, referring to software that is being blamed for a number of ransom attacks in Europe Friday.

The NHS has stated that it does not believe that the ransomware attack was specifically targeted at the NHS. Security company Avast says it has detected over 75,000 instances of the worm in 99 countries so far.

Hospitals were a prime target, Manzoni said, because "they are very vulnerable to cyber attacks and ready to pay because they can not afford any shutdowns".

The hackers behind the "ransomware" attack were demanding $300 worth of the online currency Bitcoin to release files from encryption, the Mirror and Telegraph reported.

The hacking tool, which is a type of ransomware that encrypts data so users can not access it, was spread through an email on Friday affecting computers in the UK, Japan, Turkey, Russia, Philippines, and Vietnam.

It is understood that several health trusts turned their computer systems off as a precautionary measure, rather than being shut down by the attack. "No computers are now working", they said, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to press. The NSA and Microsoft did not immediately respond to requests for comment.Andrea Zapparoli Manzoni, a senior manager in the Information Risk Management division of Kpmg Advisory in Italy, said: "The ransomware attack is happening in a haphazard fashion and is hitting every country in the world, including Italy".

Russian media also said that the Investigative Committee, the nation's top criminal investigation agency, also has been targeted.

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Telecommunications company Telefonica was among many targets in Spain, though it said the attack was limited to some computers on an internal network and had not affected clients or services. It said the attacks were carried out with a version of WannaCry ransomware that encrypted files and prompted a demand for money transfers to free up the system.

It had to cancel routine appointments and ambulances were being diverted to neighboring hospitals, Barts said.

A National Cyber Security Centre spokesman said: "We are aware of the cyber incident and we are working with NHS Digital and the National Crime Agency to investigate".

Still, only a small number of US-headquartered organizations were hit because the hackers appear to have begun the campaign by targeting organizations in Europe, said Vikram Thakur, research manager with security software maker Symantec.

Another NHS Trust in Derbyshire tweeted: "We are aware of a major IT secure system attack. And some of them may not be well prepared for such attacks", Camacho said.

Pyotr Lidov, a spokesman for Megafon, said Friday's attacks froze computers in company's offices across Russian Federation.

Anne Rainseberry, incident director at NHS, issued a statement reassuring patients that they could access services in an emergency but cautioned that hospitals were still dealing with the aftermath of the attack.

The statement said "due to the efficient cooperation between the institutions, the attack was prevented as were damages, as the targets were identified as well as the methodology of the attack".

"Let's hope that the attack on the National Health Service in Britain is simply a matter of inconvenience, and that nobody is denied essential care", he said in an email to FierceHealthcare. On Friday, a spokesman said its engineers had provided additional detection and protection services against the WannaCry malware and that it was working with customers to provide additional assistance. The cyberattack, he said, could cause a major backlog in referrals.