Data-scram­bling virus hits sys­tems across the world

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD -

PARIS | A new and highly vir­u­lent out­break of data-scram­bling soft­ware caused dis­rup­tion across the world Tues­day. Fol­low­ing a sim­i­lar at­tack in May, the fresh as­sault par­a­lyzed some hos­pi­tals, gov­ern­ment of­fices and ma­jor multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions in a dra­matic demon­stra­tion of how eas­ily ma­li­cious pro­grams can bring daily life to a halt.

Ukraine and other parts of Europe were hit par­tic­u­larly hard by the new strain of ran­somware — ma­li­cious soft­ware that locks up com­puter files with all-but-un­break­able en­cryp­tion and then de­mands a ran­som for its re­lease. In the U.S., it af­fected com­pa­nies such as the drug­maker Merck and Mon­delez In­ter­na­tional, the owner of food brands such as Oreo and Nabisco.

Re­searchers pick­ing the pro­gram apart found ev­i­dence its creators had bor­rowed from leaked Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency code, raising the pos­si­bil­ity that the dig­i­tal havoc had spread us­ing U.S. tax­payer-funded tools.

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