Digital future? 100 nations suffer huge cyber-attack
Nearly 100 countries, including India, were hit by a massive cyber attack which experts said was first reported from Sweden, Britain and France, US media outlets reported. An increase in activity of the malware was noticedon Friday, security software company Avast reported, adding that it "quickly escalated into a massive spreading".
Within hours, over 75,000 attacks have been detected worldwide, the company said. Meanwhile, the MalwareTech tracker detected over 100,000 infected systems over the past 24 hours.
Security researchers with Kaspersky Lab have recorded more than 45,000 attacks in 99 countries, including the the UK, Russia, Ukraine, India, China, Italy, and Egypt. In Spain, major companies including telecommunications firm Telefonica were infected.
In India, a section of computers of Andhra Pradesh's police departments were also affected during the global cyber attack on Friday. Computers in 18 police units in Chittoor, Krishna, Guntur, Visakhatpatnam and Srikakulam districts were affected.
The most disruptive attacks were reported in the UK, where hospitals and clinics were forced to turn away patients after losing access to computers. The US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (USCRT) under the Department of Homeland Security said it has received multiple reports of WannaCry ransomware infections in many countries around the world.
The ransomware is a type of malicious software that infects a computer and restricts users' access to it until a ransom is paid to unlock it. It demands users pay $300 worth of cryptocurrency Bitcoin to retrieve their files, though it warns that the payment will be raised after a certain amount of time. The malware spreads through email.
Individuals and organisations are discouraged from paying the ransom, as this does not guarantee access will be restored, the USCERT said. According to it, ransomware spreads easily when it encounters unpatched or outdated software.
A Microsoft spokeswoman said that the company was aware of the reports and was looking into the situation. According to The Wall Street Journal, the malware believed to be behind the attacks encrypts data on infected computers and essentially holds it for ransom.