Friday, 23 June, 2017

Manhunt for hackers behind global cyberattack

Lucas Bell | 15 May, 2017, 18:02

Though the spread of the ransomware slowed Monday, many companies and government agencies were still struggling to recover from the first attack.

"It's paused but it's going to happen again".

Laurent Marechal, a cyber security expert at McAfee, said: "We still don't know if this is worsening or easing".

Indian ATMs run on Windows XP, which has been discontinued by Microsoft long back.

Code for exploiting that bug, which is known as "Eternal Blue", was released on the internet in March by a hacking group known as the Shadow Brokers. The exploit was leaked last month as part of a trove of US National Security Agency spy tools. The agency has not responded to requests for comment.

Cybersecurity firm Avast said it tracked more than 75,000 ransomware attacks in 99 countries Friday.

"But our immediate priority as a government is to disrupt the attack, restore affected services as soon as possible, and establish who was behind it so we can bring them to justice".

But experts and government alike warn against ceding to the hackers' demands.

It affected the UK's National Health Service, Russia's Ministry of Interior, China government agencies, Deutsche Bahn, automakers Nissan Motor Co and Renault, PetroChina, logistics giant FedEx Corp, and other company and hospital computer systems in countries from Eastern Europe to the USA and Asia.

Cyber extortionists tricked victims into opening malicious malware attachments to spam emails that seemed to contain invoices, job offers, security warnings and other legitimate files.

"We expect this number to increase significantly over the course of the weekend", said Tom Robinson, lead investigator at Elliptic.

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Michael Gazeley, managing director of cybersecurity firm Network Box, told CNN that the danger is far from over and that a company's security patch on Saturday might not still work by Monday.

"We are on a downward slope, the infections are extremely few, because the malware is not able to connect to the registered domain", Vikram Thakur, principal research manager at Symantec, said as the threat subsided. It slips into a system and locks it up by encrypting files and data.

Renault said it had halted auto production at several sites, including Sandouville in northwestern France and plants of Renault-owned Dacia of Romania, on Saturday to prevent the spread of ransomware in its systems.

Among the other victims is a Nissan manufacturing plant in Sunderland, northeast England, though a spokesman said "there has been no major impact on our business".

Scottish health secretary Shona Robison said: "Scottish Government health officials are now working closely with affected boards to assess the extent of the problem, and take steps to isolate affected systems, which have been affected by a ransomware cyber-attack of the kind which has also affected health trusts in NHS England".

Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, spoke Saturday after the emergency COBRA meeting to discuss the cyberattack.

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn said some electronic signs at stations announcing arrivals and departures were infected.

In Asia, some hospitals, schools, universities and other institutions were affected, though the full extent of the damage is not yet known.

Critically ill patients are being diverted to unaffected hospitals as computer systems failed in A&E units and doctors were locked out of test results, X-rays and patient records. Among those hit were Russia's Interior Ministry and companies including Spain's Telefonica and FedEx Corp.in the U.S.

"The recent attack is at an unprecedented level and will require a complex worldwide investigation to identify the culprits", said Europol, Europe's policing agency.

He had highlighted an incident at Papworth Hospital near Cambridge where a nurse clicked on a malicious link and malware infected her computer and started to encrypt sensitive files.

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