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Scots NHS told 3 months ago to protect data from attacks

19 May 2017

He told the Tele: "We have had IT engineers in working tirelessly over the weekend".

The NHS, which was showcased in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games, employs more than 1.5 million people, making it the world's fifth biggest employer after the US and Chinese militaries, Walmart and McDonald's.

United States package delivery giant FedEx, European vehicle factories, Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, Britain's health service and Germany's Deutsche Bahn rail network were among those hit.

Wainwright described the cyberattack as an "escalating threat".

Experts think it unlikely to have been one person, with criminally minded cyber crime syndicates nowadays going underground and using ever more sophisticated encryption to hide their activities.

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"NCSC and NCA are working with Europol and other worldwide partners to make sure we all collect the right evidence, which we need to do to make sure we have the right material to find out who has done this and we go after them".

"The 5,500-strong Renault factory in Douai, northern France, one of the most important vehicle plants in the country, will not open on Monday due to the attack, sources told AFP".

The ransomware has wormed its way into thousands of computers in an apparent extortion plot, shutting users out unless they cough up payment. Hackers encrypt information vital to the performance of hospitals or other institutions, then demand money (usually in the form of BitCoin, a digital currency) in return for the encryption password.

Payment is demanded within three days or the price is doubled, and if none is received within seven days, the files will be deleted, according to the screen message. The so-called ransomware attack appears to exploit a weakness that was purportedly identified by the U.S. National Security Agency and leaked to the internet.

However, France, where carmaker Renault was among the world's highest-profile victims, said more attacks were likely.

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A hacking group called Shadow Brokers released the malware in April, claiming to have discovered the flaw from the NSA, Kaspersky said.

The attack therefore spread faster than previous, smaller-scale ransomware attacks.

"I chaired a meeting of the National Cyber Resilience Leaders' Board which discussed what lessons we can learn from this incident and how we can take forward the publication of an action plan to ensure we are as prepared as possible for future incidents".

"While the spread of the Ransomware appears to have temporarily slowed, it is still critical that businesses and individuals patch the operating systems on their computers", the centre said in a statement on its website yesterday.

For one thing, the attackers or copycat attackers may have developed new versions of the worm, although a British-based security researcher who thwarted an earlier version of the worm told Reuters most of these reports had been proven false.

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The ransomware locks users' computers and demands a $300 payment in order to re-gain access. He added: "The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call".