Monday, 22 May, 2017

Australia and New Zealand largely escape global cyber attack

Stacy Diaz | 18 May, 2017, 16:46

Analysts had feared that the ransomware attack, which started spreading on Friday, could accelerate as workers returned to their desks after the weekend and turned on compromised machines. Telefonica confirmed that its system had come under attack from a cybersecurity incident that affected the personal computers of some of its employees on 12 May.

"This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem", he said.

Run Windows Update: Updating your computer should ensure you have the latest security software to protect against viruses or malware.

Microsoft said that the exploit code used by WannaCry is created to work only against unpatched Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, or even earlier systems such as Windows XP.

Computers around the globe were hacked beginning on Friday using a security flaw in Microsoft's Windows XP operating system, an older version that was no longer given mainstream tech support by the United States giant.

'But let me just assure you, we are spending money on strengthening the cyber defence of our hospital system'.

Over the weekend, a malicious global cyber attack which locks computers and holds users' files for ransom, hit over 75 countries, with one Australian company so far likely to be one of those targeted.

"The recent attack is at an unprecedented level and will require a complex global investigation to identify the culprits", said a statement issued by Europol, Europe's police agency.

Brad Smith, who is Microsoft's chief legal officer, said Sunday in a blog post that his company, its customers and the government all share the blame.

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The attack, already believed to be the biggest online extortion scheme ever recorded, is an "escalating threat" after hitting 200,000 victims across the world since Friday, according to Rob Wainwright, the head of Europol, Europe's policing agency.

Hospitals, universities, manufacturers and government agencies in Britain, China, Russia, Germany and Spain have all been affected.

The attack has also hit 150 countries around the world since Friday.

French carmaker Renault was forced to stop production at sites in France, Slovenia and Romania, while FedEx said it was "implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible".

"We are very aware that attacks on critical services such as the NHS have a massive impact on individuals and their families, and we are doing everything in our power to help them restore these vital services", he said.

Experts and governments alike warn against ceding to the demands and Wainwright said few victims so far had been paying up.

But the timing of the attack meant it began after trading hours down-under. The British Home Secretary said most of the NHS systems were back to normal by midday Saturday.

Among those affected by the virus was Nissan, but the auto manufacturer said there had been no major impact.

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