Tue, May 16, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Ransomware cyberattack resumes spread

Staff writer with CNA and AP, TOKYO

A worldwide ransomware cyberattack yesterday spread to thousands more computers as people logged in at work, disrupting businesses, schools, hospitals and daily life, although no new large-scale breakdowns were reported.

The full extent of the damage from the cyberattack felt in 150 nations was unclear and could worsen if more malicious variations of the online extortion scheme appear.

The initial attack, known as “WannaCry,” paralyzed computers running factories, banks, government agencies and transport systems in scores of countries, including Taiwan, Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, Spain, India and Japan.

Among those hit were the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs and companies including Spain’s Telefonica SA and FedEx Corp in the US.

About 770 computers at Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower, 台電) offices were infected by WannaCry in Friday’s attack, but most have been repaired, the state-run utility said yesterday.

The incident has not affected electricity supply because the infected computers were used mainly for administrative work, Taipower spokesman Lin Te-fu (林德福) said.

As soon as the infection was detected on Saturday, the company disconnected the computers from the Internet, updated them and began repairing them, Lin said.

As of yesterday afternoon, only 152 computers had not yet been repaired, he said, adding that the work was expected to be completed by the end of the day.

Although the ransomware continued to spread at a more subdued pace yesterday, many companies and government agencies were still struggling to recover from the first attack.

In Asia, where Friday’s attack occurred after business hours, thousands of new cases were reported yesterday as people went back to work.

The nonprofit Japan Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center said 2,000 computers at 600 locations in Japan were affected.

Companies including Hitachi Ltd and Nissan Motor Co reported problems, but said they had not seriously affected their business operations.

State media said 29,372 institutions in China had been infected, along with hundreds of thousands of devices.

Universities and other educational institutions in China were among the hardest hit, possibly because schools tend to have old computers and are slow to update operating systems and security, Internet strategy think tank ChinaLabs founder Fang Xingdong (方興東) said.

Experts urged organizations and companies to immediately update older Microsoft operating systems, such as Windows XP, with a patch the firm released two months ago to limit vulnerability to a more powerful version — and future versions — of the malware.

Microsoft’s top lawyer is laying some of the blame at the feet of the US government.

Brad Smith criticized US intelligence agencies, including the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA), for “stockpiling” software code that can be used by hackers.

Cybersecurity experts have said the unknown hackers who launched this weekend’s cyberattacks used a vulnerability that was exposed in NSA documents leaked online.

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