CAPE TOWN — South Africans have been warned not to open any unknown emails and to urgently update their security software as a global cyber ransom attack spread on Friday.
Friday’s global cyber-attack has affected more than 200 000 victims in 150 countries and regions, Europol chief Rob Wainwright said on Sunday.
Hackers reportedly used a tool known as Eternal Blue and a malicious software called WannaCry to lock users’ computers and to demand a payment for the decryption.
The global cyber-attack has so far swept across more than 100 countries including the United States, Britain, Germany and China. Cyber security experts said it could be the biggest cyber-attack of its kind ever.
“Many of those victims were businesses, including large corporations. The global reach is unprecedented,” Wainwright said in an interview with Britain’s ITV.
Wainwright said he was concerned that the numbers of those affected would continue to rise when people returned to work on Monday morning.
“We’re in the face of an escalating threat, the numbers are going up,” he said, adding that the current attack was unprecedented.
Wainwright told ITV that the world faced an escalating threat, and there was concern about the level of potential attacks on Monday morning.
Wainwright warned the healthcare sector “in many countries” was particularly vulnerable, but that all organizations should ensure they prioritise cyber security and update their systems.
The virus took control of users’ files, demanding payments.
Russia and Britain were among the worst hit countries.
Dozens of Russian public institutions including the Bank of Russia said on Saturday that they have thwarted a massive cyber-attack and prevented vital data loss.
The central bank’s security and information protection division, responsible for monitoring computer attacks in the credit and financial sphere, has registered massive spread of malicious programs, but no instances of compromise were detected, said the Bank of Russia, quoted by Sputnik, a major media outlet in Russia
The Russian Interior Ministry and Health Ministry also said earlier in the day that they have “repelled” such attacks as the virus was promptly detected and localized, according to Russian news agencies.
Britain’s official emergency committee, known as Cobra, met in London on Saturday afternoon to discuss the cyber-attack that has caused widespread disruption to the country’s National Health Service (NHS).
Around 45 NHS organisations in England and Scotland, including hospitals, family doctor surgeries, and health services, were hit in the cyber-attack which prevented doctors, nurses and staff from accessing vital patient information.
However, Wainwright said Europol was working on the basis that the cyber-attack was carried out by criminals rather than terrorists, but noted that “remarkably few” payments had been made so far.
“Most people are not paying this, so there are not a lot of money being made with this by criminal organisations so far,” he said. – Xinhua/Sputnik
PHOTO: This Day Describing it as the biggest cyber attack in history, Roi Shaposhnik of Johannesburg-based Gold N’ Links Cyber said syndicates around the world targeted a weak spot in Microsoft security updates which lead to a massive crash (file photo).