Cyber attack hits 200000 in at least 150 countries - Europol

Denis Naughten said the threat is being faced by not only the HSE and the likelihood is that next week attacks may be recorded here because there is a lot of legacy equipment in both the public and private sectors.

A global cyber attack leveraging hacking tools believed to have been developed by the U.S. National Security Agency has infected tens of thousands of computers in almost 100 countries, disrupting Britain's health system and global shipper FedEx.

Called "WannaCry", the fast-spreading malware is the first ever detected to combine both a worm - which enables it to burrow into an entire network from a single infected computer - and a ransomware, demanding US$300 (€275, RM1,298) in the virtual currency Bitcoin to unlock systems.

Microsoft chief Brad Smith said the attack was a sign for individuals, companies and governments to step up their cyber security game.

"The truth is, if you're going to cut infrastructure budgets and if you're not going to allow the NHS to invest in upgrading its IT, then you are going to leave hospitals wide open to this sort of attack", he added.

Investigators from around the globe, including the National Crime Agency, are working to hunt down those responsible for the virus.

Defence minister Michael Fallon told the BBC the British government under prime minister Theresa May was spending around £50 million (€58.9 million) on improving computer systems in the NHS after warning the service that it needed to reduce its exposure to "the weakest system, the Windows XP".

Speaking after a Cobra meeting on Saturday, Home Secretary Amber Rudd admitted "there's always more" that can be done to protect against viruses.

"We're obviously working with that business, the Australian Cyber Security Centre is engaging with them".

She said: "If you look at who's been impacted by this virus, it's a huge variety across different industries and across worldwide governments".

Mr Wallace said it was a "red herring" to focus exclusively on the Windows XP operating system as being vulnerable, saying the virus had also attacked both Windows 7 and 8.1.

Europol said its cybercrime specialists will support affected countries as a "complex worldwide investigation" to identify the culprits begins.

But he warned it was likely some Australians would fall victim.

"But I don't think that those concerns should hide the fact that ALL of us need to be protected".

However, Mr Wainwright said that so far "remarkably few" payments had been made by victims of the attack.

An NHS Forth Valley spokesperson said staff were being kept up to date with developments as they happened.

Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairman of the Royal College of Global Positioning System, said the attacks, combined with precautionary measures, have had an "extensive impact" on GP practices, some of which are likely to struggle on Monday.

  • Arturo Norris