Global manhunt for hackers behind cyber attack

A spokesperson for the trust said: "Our systems and services were not affected by the recent cyber-attack".

Spain's national cryptology centre had earlier announced that the "massive ransomware attack" targeted the Windows operating system by "encrypting all its archives and all the connected units inside the network, and infecting the rest of the Windows systems inside the network".

Officials in Japan and South Korea said they believed security updates had helped ward off the worst of the impact. Many of those victims will be businesses, including large corporations.

Meanwhile, there are fears that more ransomware attack would be discovered on Monday as people resume work after the weekend.

The ransomware has been created to spread between computers and networks automatically with a "worm functionality", which has allowed it to quickly spread across the world.

A hospital in Taiwan also reported that one of its computers was compromised, Taiwan's Central News Agency said on Sunday.

Many public computers still have Windows XP installed, and they could be susceptible to the malware if IT administrators have not downloaded the appropriate security patches.

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at the Helsinki-based cyber security company F-Secure, told AFP that the attack was "the biggest ransomware outbreak in history", saying that 130,000 systems in more than 100 countries had been affected.

Scottish health secretary Shona Robison said: "We are aware of a number of health boards affected by potential cyber incidents and the First Minister will chair a resilience meeting shortly".

A 22-year-old British researcher who uses the Twitter name MalwareTech has been credited with inadvertently helping to stanch the spread of the assault by identifying the web domain for the hackers' "kill switch" - a way of disabling the malware. MalwareTech was one of many security experts warning that a less-vulnerable version of the malware is likely to be released.

"This is one reason we called in February for a new "Digital Geneva Convention" to govern these issues, including a new requirement for governments to report vulnerabilities to vendors, rather than stockpile, sell, or exploit them".

A message informing visitors of a cyberattack is displayed on the National Health Service website in London.

Wainwright said Europol was working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States to track down those responsible, saying that more than one person was likely behind it.

The "kill switch" that stopped it spreading -accidentally discovered by a security researcher - may have been meant to stop the virus working if captured and put in what's called a sandbox - a safe place where security experts put computer malware to watch what they do - but not applied properly.

"It seems that a lot of internet security guys over the weekend did their homework and ran the security software updates", he said.

  • Leroy Wright