Cyber-attack hits 100 countries, thousands of computers

MNA Science & Tech Desk: A large-scale cyber-attack affected nearly one hundred countries and held tens of thousands of computers ransom throughout the day on Friday.

Antivirus provider Avast reported that at least 75,000 computers had been infected by the crippling malware and that the “WanaCrypt0r 2.0,” as it is called, ransomware had been detected in 99 countries.

More than a dozen hospitals in England and major companies, including FedEx and Spain’s largest telecom, were targeted Friday.

U.S. companies were being warned to gird against the threat, which reportedly blocked access to computers in exchange for a ransom.

At least 16 National Health Service hospitals and related organizations were affected in England and another five in Scotland, officials said in a statement.

Some English hospitals tweeted that they were taking precautionary measures to protect patients, while doctors’ offices tweeted problems obtaining patients’ files because of the attack.

Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre and its National Crime Agency were looking into the UK incidents, which disrupted care at National Health Service facilities.

“This is not targeted at the NHS, it’s an international cyber-attack and a number of countries and organizations have been affected,” British Prime Minister Theresa May said.

Russia’s interior ministry said that some of its computers had been hit by a “virus attack” and that efforts were underway to destroy it.

The US Department of Homeland Security’s computer emergency response team said it was aware of ransomware infections “in several countries around the world.”

In a statement, Kaspersky Labs said it was “trying to determine whether it is possible to decrypt data locked in the attack—with the aim of developing a decryption tool as soon as possible.”

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