Ransomware attack hit 200000 in at least 150 countries

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An worldwide manhunt is under way to find those responsible for a massive global cyberattack that hit more than 200,000 victims in more than 150 countries, Europol has said.

The IT ministry said that no reports have been formally received so far regarding the ransomware attack in India.

"We've never seen anything like this", the European policing agency's director Rob Wainwright said in an appearance on ITV's "Peston on Sunday" talk show in the United Kingdom.

Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who exposed the broad scope of NSA surveillance in 2013, tweeted, "If @NSAGov had privately disclosed the flaw used to attack hospitals when they *found* it, not when they lost it, this may not have happened".

The phenomenon of companies failing to update their systems has been a persistent security problem for years.

The attack, involving a malicious piece of software (malware) called WannaCry, spreads between vulnerable computers and holds users' files to ransom by encrypting them. The demand would double after three days, or data would be destroyed.

The self-taught expert who has emerged as the accidental hero of the global cyber attack is understood to have stopped the incident escalating from a small bedroom in his parents' house.

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Currently, an estimated 200,000 victims in 150 different countries are reported to have been hit by the cyberattack.

He also warned hackers could upgrade ransomware to remove the "kill switch" that helped to stop it.

Technical staff scrambled yesterday to patch computers and restore infected ones.

The "kill" function halted WanaCryptor's ability to copy itself rapidly to all terminals in an infected system - hastening its crippling effect on a large network - once it was in contact with a secret internet address, or URL, consisting of a lengthy alphanumeric string.

Although the virus slowed over the weekend as researchers discovered ways to thwart the spread of the malware, experts said the respite was likely to be brief as new versions have already started cropping up.

He added that it was too early to say who was behind the attack and what their motivation was, but the main challenge was how quickly the virus could spread.

WanaCryptor 2.0 is only part of the problem.

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A security update was released by Microsoft in March to protect against the virus.However, it seems that many NHS trusts had not applied it or were using an older version of the operating system which is no longer supported - Windows XP.

NSA does not discuss its capabilities, and some computer experts say the MS17-010 exploit was developed by unknown parties using the name Equation Group (which may also be linked to NSA).

People are reflected in a glass sign of a Telefonica building in Madrid, Spain, May 13, 2017. The British Home Secretary said most of the NHS systems were back to normal by midday Saturday.

Fears are growing that Monday could see a surge in the number of computers taken over by the devastating WannaCry ransomware hack.

Check Point is among the cybersecurity firms warning that victims should not pay the ransom demanded by WannaCry ransomware.

Australia appears to have escaped the worst fallout from a huge global ransomware attack, but the Prime Minister's cybersecurity adviser has warned that "this is not game over" in the battle between hackers and security agencies.

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