Ransomware: Cyber Extortionists Unleash Attack on Computers Worldwide

A malware called ransomware, encrypted data on computers and demanded payments of $300 to $600 to restore access.

New Delhi: Making use of stolen software, hackers carried out cyber attacks that hit dozens of countries worldwide. According to a report, software stolen from the National Security Agency was used to disable thousands of computers worldwide.

It is assumed that these hackers managed to trick victims into opening malicious malware attachments to spam emails that appeared to contain legitimate files.

A malware called ransomware encrypted data on computers, and demanded payments of $300 to $600 to restore access.

According to security researchers, many victims paid to these cyber extortionists. The researchers at a popular security software builder observed around 57,000 infections in 99 countries, with Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan as top targets.

Spain, Portugal, Argentina were also targeted. But Britain is the most affected of all. With no computer access, the hospitals and clinics were said to have forced to turn away patients.

However, US-headquartered organizations were the least hit. This could be because the hackers began targeting European organizations first, said a research manager. By the time the cyber extortionists turned their attention to the United States, spam filters identified the new threat and flagged the ransomware-laden emails as malicious, he added.

The US Department of Homeland Security on Friday night said that it was aware of reports of the ransomware, and that it was sharing information with domestic and foreign partners and was prepared to lend technical support.

Private security firms identified the ransomware as a new variant of “WannaCry.” It has the ability to automatically spread across large networks by exploiting a known bug in Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

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