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Microsoft adds detection, protection against global cyberattack -statement

13 May 2017

Patrick Ward, 47, a sales director at Purbeck Ice Cream, from Dorset in England, poses for photographs after giving media interviews after his heart operation scheduled today was cancelled because of a cyberattack, outside St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, Friday, May 12, 2017.

Some of the first reports emerged from England, where hospitals across the country were hit by ransomware attacks, in which hackers infect computers with malicious software and demand ransoms to restore access, according to the National Health Service (NHS).

It was believed to the biggest attack of its kind ever recorded.

The moves came after attackers on Friday used a recently leaked attack tool developed by the National Security Agency to virally spread ransomware known as WCry.

Computers were infected with what is known as "ransomware" - software that freezes up a machine and flashes a message demanding payment to release the user's data.

Fedex said it was "experiencing interference with some of our Windows-based systems caused by malware" and was trying to fix the problems as quickly as possible.

Affected by the onslaught were computer networks at hospitals in Britain, Russia's interior ministry, the Spanish telecom giant Telefonica and the U.S. delivery firm FedEx and many other organisations.

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Security researchers say in this case the infection seems to be deployed via a worm-a program that spreads by itself a network of computers rather than relying on humans to click on a spam mail or infected attachment.

Short of paying, options for individuals and companies affected are to recover data files from a backup, if available, or to live without them.

The head of Turkey's Information and Communication Technologies Authority or BTK says the nation was among those affected by the ransomware attack. But it remained unclear how many organizations had already lost control of their data to the malicious software - and researchers warned that copycat attacks could follow.

The security holes it exploits were disclosed several weeks ago by TheShadowBrokers, a mysterious group that has published what it says are hacking tools used by the NSA as part of its intelligence-gathering.

The chaos surprised many security watchers because Microsoft issued an update in March that patched the underlying vulnerability in Windows 7 and most other supported versions of Windows.

By Kaspersky Lab's count, the malware struck at least 74 countries. A spokeswoman said the company was "doing what is needed to counter this attack".

Hospitals in areas across Britain found themselves without access to their computers or phone systems. Within hours, computer systems around the world were crippled, prompting hospitals to turn away patients and telecoms, banks and companies such as FedEx to turn off computers for the weekend.

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Who perpetrated this wave of attacks remains unknown. "It's stressful enough for someone going through recovery or treatment for cancer".

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said the cyberattack on United Kingdom hospitals is part of a wider worldwide attack.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May says the hospital cyberattack is part of a wider global attack.

Spain, meanwhile, took steps to protect critical infrastructure in response to the attack.

Megafon, a Russian telecommunications company, was also hit by the attack.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, at a meeting of world leaders in Italy, said the attack was a reminder of the importance of cybersecurity.

Krishna Chinthapalli, a doctor at Britain's National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery who wrote a paper on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal, said many British hospitals still use Windows XP software, introduced in 2001.

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"The Trust has been advised by I.T. security and NHS-Digital of a serious Ransomware threat now in circulation throughout the NHS", the email to employees of Britain's National Health Service said.

Microsoft adds detection, protection against global cyberattack -statement