Mon, May 15, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Europol warns cyberattacks could continue today

Reuters, LONDON

People use computers at a cybercafe in Taipei on Saturday. Taiwan was one of the nations affected by a “ransomware” cyberattack on Friday.

Photo: David Chang, EPA

Friday’s cyberattack hit 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries and that number could grow when people return to work today, the head of the EU’s police agency said yesterday.

Cybersecurity experts say the spread of the virus dubbed WannaCry — “ransomware” which locked up computers in car factories, hospitals, shops and schools in several countries — has slowed, but that any respite might be brief.

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

“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 said.

“At the moment, we are in the face of an escalating threat. The numbers are going up; I am worried about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn [on] their machines on Monday morning,” he said.

Wainwright said that Europol and other agencies did not yet know who was behind the attack, but “normally it is criminally minded and that is our first working theory for obvious reasons.”

“Of course there are amounts that are being demanded, in this case relatively small amounts — US$300 rising to US$600 if you don’t pay within three days,” he said.

“[There have been] remarkably few payments so far that we’ve noticed as we are tracking this, so most people are not paying this, so there isn’t a lot of money being made by criminal organizations so far,” he said.

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