Number of Victims Expected to Grow: Cyber-Attack Hits 200,000 in at Least 150 Countries

By Earnest Wright, The Goldwater · 05-15-2017
Photo credit: Aiconimage | Dreamstime.com

The cyber-attack that hit 200,000 victims on Friday was felt in at least 150 countries. The head of the European Union's police agency said on Sunday that the number could grow when people return to work on Monday.

The spread of the virus dubbed WannaCry has slowed, as revealed by cyber security experts. WannaCry is ransomware which locked up computers in car factories, hospitals, shops and schools in several countries.

The Director of Europol, Rob Wainwright told ITV's Peston on Sunday program the attack was unique in that the ransomware was used in combination with a worm functionality so the infection spread automatically.

Wainwright also revealed that the global reach is unprecedented. The latest count is over 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries, and those victims, many of those will be businesses, including large corporations.

He emphasized that the world is in the face of an escalating threat, adding that the numbers are going up; and he’s worried about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and are back on their machines on Monday morning.

The Director said that Europol and other agencies do not yet know who was behind the attack but highlighted that it is often criminally minded and that is his first working theory for obvious reasons. He also revealed that there are amounts that are being demanded, in this case relatively small amounts - $300 rising to $600 if you don't pay within three days.

Wainwright said that the have been remarkably few payments so far that they've noticed as they are tracking down, adding that there isn't a lot of money being made by criminal organizations so far. He also said that Europol had been concerned about cyber security in the healthcare sector, which deals with a lot of sensitive data.

Speaking to the BBC, Defence minister said that the government under Prime Minister Theresa May was spending around 50 million pounds on improving the computer systems in the NHS after warning the service that it needed to reduce its exposure to the weakest system, the Windows XP.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-cyber-attack-europol-idUSKCN18A0FX

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