FedEx con­firms it was hit by mal­ware at­tack

The Progress-Index Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Jill Lawless and Aritz Parra

Dozens of coun­tries were hit with a huge cy­berex­tor­tion at­tack Fri­day that locked up com­put­ers and held users’ files for ran­som at a mul­ti­tude of hos­pi­tals, com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ment agen­cies. It was be­lieved to the big­gest at­tack of its kind ever recorded. The ma­li­cious soft­ware be­hind the on­slaught ap­peared to ex­ploit a vul­ner­a­bil­ity in Mi­crosoft Win­dows that was sup­pos­edly iden­ti­fied by the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency for its own in­tel­li­gence-gath­er­ing pur­poses and was later leaked to the in­ter­net. Bri­tain’s na­tional health ser­vice fell vic­tim, its hos­pi­tals forced to close wards and emer­gency rooms and turn away pa­tients. Rus­sia ap­peared to be the hard­est hit, ac­cord­ing to se­cu­rity ex­perts, with the coun­try’s In­te­rior Min­istry con­firm­ing it was struck.

LONDON — A huge ex­tor­tion cyberattack hit dozens of na­tions Fri­day, hold­ing com­puter data for ran­som at hos­pi­tals, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions firms and other com­pa­nies. The at­tack ap­peared to ex­ploit a vul­ner­a­bil­ity pur­port­edly iden­ti­fied for use by the U.S. Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency and later leaked to the in­ter­net.

The at­tack hit Bri­tain’s health ser­vice, forc­ing af­fected hos­pi­tals to close wards and emer­gency rooms. Re­lated at­tacks were re­ported in Spain, Por­tu­gal and Rus­sia. Two se­cu­rity firms — Kasper­sky Lab and Avast — said they had iden­ti­fied the mal­ware be­hind the at­tack in up­ward of 70 coun­tries, although both said the at­tack has hit Rus­sia hard­est.

The Rus­sian In­te­rior Min­istry has con­firmed it was hit by the “ran­somware” at­tack, which en­crypts data on in­fected com­put­ers and de­mands pay­ment, usu­ally via the dig­i­tal cur­rency bit­coin, to re­lease it. Bri­tain’s health ser­vice was also hit hard Fri­day as the at­tack froze com­put­ers at hos­pi­tals across the coun­try, shut­ting down wards, clos­ing emer­gency rooms and bring­ing med­i­cal treat­ments to a screech­ing halt.

Hos­pi­tals in ar­eas across Bri­tain found them­selves with­out ac­cess to their com­put­ers or phone sys­tems. Many can­celed all rou­tine pro­ce­dures and asked pa­tients not to come to the hos­pi­tals un­less it was an emer­gency

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