Ex­tor­tion scheme hits 150 coun­tries

New Straits Times - - World -

GLOBAL cy­ber chaos was spread­ing yes­ter­day as com­pa­nies booted up com­put­ers at work fol­low­ing the week­end’s world­wide “ran­somware” cy­ber­at­tack.

The ex­tor­tion scheme cre­ated chaos in 150 coun­tries and could wreak even greater havoc as more ma­li­cious vari­a­tions ap­pear.

The ini­tial at­tack, known as “Wan­naCry”, paral­ysed com­put­ers run­ning Bri­tain’s hospi­tal net­work, Ger­many’s na­tional rail­way and scores of com­pa­nies and govern­ment agen­cies around the world.

Chi­nese state me­dia said 29,372 in­sti­tu­tions had been in­fected along with hun­dreds of thou­sands of de­vices.

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

Govern­ment agen­cies said they were un­af­fected. Com­pa­nies like Hi­tachi and Nis­san Mo­tor Co re­ported prob­lems they said had not se­ri­ously af­fected their busi­ness op­er­a­tions.

In China, uni­ver­si­ties and other ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions were among the hard­est hit, about 15 per cent of the In­ter­net pro­to­col ad­dresses at­tacked, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial Xin­hua News Agency.

Else­where in Asia, of­fi­cials in Ja­pan and South Korea said they be­lieved se­cu­rity up­dates had helped ward off the worst of the im­pact.

The at­tack was dis­rupt­ing com­put­ers that run fac­to­ries, banks, govern­ment agen­cies and trans­port sys­tems in scores of coun­tries, in­clud­ing Rus­sia, Ukraine, Brazil, Spain, In­dia and Ja­pan.

Rus­sia’s In­te­rior Min­istry and com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Spain’s Tele­fon­ica, FedEx Corp in the United States and French car­maker Re­nault all re­ported trou­bles.

The at­tack held users hostage by freez­ing their com­put­ers, pop­ping up a red screen with the words, “Oops, your files have been en­crypted!” and de­mand­ing money through on­line bit­coin pay­ment — US$300 (RM1,300) at first, ris­ing to US$600 be­fore it de­stroys files hours later.

The at­tack has hit more than 200,000 vic­tims across the world since Fri­day and is seen as an “es­ca­lat­ing threat”, said Rob Wain­wright, the head of Europol, Europe’s polic­ing agency.

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