NHS 'robust' after cyber-attack

The malicious software behind the attack appeared to exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was supposedly identified by the National Security Agency.

Cybersecurity firm Avast said it has tracked more than 75,000 attacks in 99 countries, while Russia, Ukraine, and Taiwan were the worst hit by malware called WannaCry or WannaCry 2, Jakub Kroustek.

The Russian Interior Ministry, which runs the country's police, confirmed it was among those that fell victim to the ransomware, which typically flashes a message demanding a payment to release the user's own data.

A Nissan spokesman said: "Like many organisations around the world, some Nissan entities were recently targeted by a ransomware attack".

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at the Helsinki-based cybersecurity company F-Secure, called the attack "the biggest ransomware outbreak in history".

"The key question" to consider is how an attack such as Friday's could originate "from a noncritical system such as email" and then spread to other systems, said Awais Rashid, a professor of software engineering at Lancaster University. Short of paying, options for these individuals and companies are usually limited to recovering data files from a backup, if available, or living without them.

The security holes it exploits were disclosed several weeks ago by TheShadowBrokers, a mysterious group that has published what it says are hacking tools used by the NSA as part of its intelligence-gathering.

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The attack targeted Windows computers that had not installed patches released by Microsoft in March, or older machines running software that Microsoft no longer supports and for which patches did not exist, including the 16-year-old Windows XP system, researchers said. In addition to Russian Federation, the biggest targets appeared to be Ukraine and India, nations where it is common to find older, unpatched versions of Windows in use, according to the security firm.

At two London hospitals, a British medical student found widespread computer issues, he told CNN.

Latest estimates have suggested up to 75,000 individuals across almost 100 countries were affected by the massive cyber attack that locked down computers and demanded a ransom.

Britain's National Cyber Security Centre and its National Crime Agency were looking into the United Kingdom incidents, which disrupted care at National Health Service facilities, forcing ambulances to divert and hospitals to postpone operations.

Critically ill patients are being diverted to unaffected hospitals as computer systems failed in Accidents & Emergency (A&E) units and doctors were locked out of test results, X- rays and patient records.

"Both staff and patients were frankly pretty appalled that somebody, whoever they are, for commercial gain or otherwise, would attack a health care organization", he said. "It's stressful enough for someone going through recovery or treatment for cancer".

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that Friday's cyber attack has affected 48 of the 248 NHS trusts in England, with all but six now back to normal.

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"The recent attack is at an unprecedented level and will require a complex worldwide investigation to identify the culprits", it said in a statement.

Spain, meanwhile, took steps to protect critical infrastructure in response to the attack.

NHS Digital said it was working with the government's National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and NHS England to help the organizations affected "manage the incident swiftly and decisively".

Elsewhere in Europe, the attack hit Spain's Telefonica, a global broadband and telecommunications company, and knocked ticketing offline for Norway's IF Odd, a 132-year-old soccer club. He said the situation was under control.

"Once inside a network, it seeks out and affects any susceptible computer it can find on the network", he said.

Authorities in Britain have been braced for cyber attacks in the run-up to the election, as happened during last year's U.S. election and on the eve of the French run-off vote on 7 May.

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