By: Savannah Smith | 05-12-2017 | News
Photo credit: Le Cong Duc Dao |

Giant Telco, Other Firms In Spain Also Hit In "Ransomware" Attack

Spain was also affected by the "ransomware" attack that hit England. Large companies in Spain including telecommunications giant Telefonica had also fallen victims to the malicious software which locks up computers and demands ransoms, earning the infamous "ransomware" tag.

The attacks in Spain, however, were not as serious or bad as the one experienced by England, as the Spanish government said that the provision of services or network operations were not disrupted. Telefonica, for its part, said the impact of the attack was limited only to some computers on an internal network, and had not really affected clients or services.

Telefonica Chief Data Officer Chema Alonso, also a well-known cyber security expert, sought to downplay the impact of the attacks as he took to Twitter to say that "news has been exaggerated and our colleagues are working on it right now."

A Telefonica spokesman also said that infected computers saw in their screens the appearance of a window that demanded payment with the digital currency bitcoin in order to regain access to files.

England had it worse when the hacking forced hospitals and doctors' surgeries to turn away patients and cancel appointments on Friday as the attacks crippled some computer systems in the government-run health service.

Private cyber security firms executives said that security teams at large financial services firms and businesses were reviewing plans for defending against ransomware attacks.

Cyber extortion cases are nothing new as they have been on the rise for several years, but until recently they have targeted small-and-mid-sized organizations capable of disrupting services provided by hospitals, police departments, public transport systems and utilities in the U.S.and Europe. But with a large telco like Telefonica getting hit as well have experts becoming alarmed. The concern is that such attacks might embolden other cuber extortionists when selecting targets.

Chris Camacho, chief strategy officer with cyber intelligence firm Flashpoint, said that now that cyber criminals know they can hit the big guys as well, they might start targeting other big corporations as well. And these corporations may not be prepared for such attacks.

Some big firms in Spain took pre-emptive steps to stop ransomware attacks after a warning was issued by the National Cryptology Center of "a massive ransomware attack." It pointed that hackers used a version of a virus known as WannaCry that targets Microsoft Corp's (MSFT.O) widely used Windows operating system.

Still in Spain, representatives from firms Iberdola (IBE.MC) and Gas Natural ( GAS.MC) along with Vodafone's unit in the country ( VOD.L) said they have asked staff to turn off computers or cut off internet access in case they had been compromised.

It can not be established yet how many Spanish organizations had been compromised by the attacks, or if critical services had been interrupted, and to top it, whether victims had paid cyber criminals to regain access to their networks.


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