World’s biggest cyber attack which has affected more than 200, 000 victims in 150 countries since May 12 is expected to keep growing.
The Wanna Decryptor ransomware, also known as WannaCry which hit the York Teaching Hospital Trust and Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and countries around the globe was termed as “unprecedented in its scale” by Europol chief, Rob Wainwright, adding that the attack was indiscriminate across the private and public sectors.
In England, 48 National Health Service (NHS) trusts reported problems at hospitals, GP surgeries or pharmacies, and 13 NHS organisations in Scotland were also affected.
The attack is a virus that locks people out of their computer files until they pay a ransom to the hackers. Russia and the UK were among the worst-hit countries. Wainwright said that the ransomware was combined with a worm application- a program that replicates itself in order to spread to other computers.
Experts say the spread of the virus had been stymied by a security researcher in the U.K. Hackers have issued new versions of the virus that cyber security organisations are actively trying to counter and stamp out.
Experts say another attack could be imminent and have warned people to ensure their security is up to date. Agency said that some infections may not yet have been detected and that existing infections can spread within networks.
“We will get a decryption tool eventually, but for the moment, it’s still a live threat and we’re still in disaster recovery mode,” said Wainwright.
Organisations across the globe are now working non-stop to hunt down those responsible for the ransomware. Meanwhile, health authorities are racing to upgrade security software amid fears hackers could exploit the same vulnerability with a new virus.
Hospitals, major companies and government offices were among those that were badly affected. Cybersecurity experts have said the majority of the attacks targeted Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan. But U.K. hospitals, Chinese universities and global firms like FedEx (FDX) also reported they had come under assault.