2 lakh hit by 'unprecedented' cyberhack in 150 nations:Europol

Friday's cyber-attack has affected more than 200,000 victims in 150 countries, Europol chief Rob Wainwright says. "I am anxious about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn their machines on Monday morning". Cybersecurity experts have said the majority of the attacks targeted Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan.

"The global reach is unprecedented".

An exterior view shows the main entrance of St Bartholomew's Hospital, in London, one of the hospitals whose computer systems were affected by a cyberattack, Friday, May 12, 2017.

Sixteen National Health Service organizations in the United Kingdom were hit, and some of thosehospitals canceled outpatient appointments and told people to avoid emergency departments if possible. Europol, the European Union's police agency, said the onslaught was at "an unprecedented level and will require a complex global investigation to identify the culprits".

The so-called WannaCry ransomware locks access to user files and demands money - in the form of the virtual currency Bitcoin - in order to decrypt them.

A 22-year-old British researcher who uses the Twitter name MalwareTech has been credited with inadvertently helping stanch the spread of the assault by identifying the web domain for the hackers' "kill switch" - a way of disabling the malware.

You can try a decryption tool to unlock your data, but that won't always work, and hackers will sometimes use such apps as bait to further infect your system (so if you download one, only get it from a trusted, official site). And while Microsoft had already released a security update to patch the vulnerability one month earlier, the sequence of events fed speculation that the NSA hadn't told the USA tech giant about the security risk until after it had been stolen.

Officials and experts today urged organizations and companies to update their operating systems immediately to ensure they aren't vulnerable to a second, more powerful version of the malicious software.

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

Microsoft was quick to change its policy, announcing free security patches to fix this vulnerability in the older Windows systems still used by millions of individuals and smaller businesses.

The software tools to create the attack were revealed in April among a trove of NSA spy tools that were either leaked or stolen.

In Britain, many hospitals and clinics that are part of the country's national health service were still having computer problems.

In the event that a computer is infected with malware, experts say that users should not pay the ransom as there is no guarantee that the files will be returned and whether the perpetrators will refrain from attacking the user again. It demands users pay Dollars 300 worth of cryptocurrency Bitcoin to retrieve their files, though it warns that the payment will be raised after a certain amount of time.

  • Arturo Norris