Cyberattack hits at least 100,000 in 150 countries
A display panel with an error can be seen at the main railway station in Chemnitz, Germany. AP
It’s a global epidemic.
The massive cyber-attack sweeping across the world’s computers has now infected at least 100,000 organizations in 150 countries, Europe’s police agency announced Sunday.
And things are only going to get worse Monday morning when more people come to work and turn their computers on, said Europol spokesman Jan Op Gen Oorth.
Officials still don’t know who is behind the so-called “ransomware” attack — the largest online extortion attempt ever, he said.
The “WannaCry” program cripples computer networks by freezing machines and demanding money — $300 bitcoins initially, then rising to $600 over several hours before it destroys the files — although few people have actually coughed up the cash, Op Gen Oorth added.
Some of the largest victims so far include FedEx, Britain’s hospital network, Russia’s Interior Ministry, Spain’s Telefonica, and French car company Renault, Reuters reports.
Some of the outbreak has been stemmed by a 22-year-old computer whiz who discovered a “kill switch” in the program.
But it is only a matter of time before the attackers tweak the program’s code to build a better mouse trap, an expert told Reuters.
“It really would not be so difficult for the actors behind this to re-release their code without a kill switch or with a better kill switch,” said cyber-security researcher Darien Huss, who assisted in discovering the original kill switch.