NHS cyber-attack: Patients asked to use services 'wisely'

To get the system unlocked, you need to pay a ransom, now $300.

Chinese media reported Sunday that the "ransomware" virus attacked many university networks in China. Although the spread of the attacks was stopped, experts have warned people to brace for renewed and imminent waves of attacks.

MalwareTech blogger, who wants to remain anonymous, was hailed as an "accidental hero" after registering a domain name to track the spread of the virus, which actually ended up halting it.

BBC analysis of three accounts linked with the global attack suggests the hackers have already been paid the equivalent of £22,080. So far, the number of systems affected is estimated to be anywhere between a hundred and two hundred thousand. Copycat attacks could follow. "But there's clearly some culpability on the part of the USA intelligence services".

Microsoft said the situation was "painful" and that it was taking "all possible actions to protect our customers".

Europol's Wainwright underscored the point Sunday.

The attack was one of the largest ransomware attacks in history.

A spokeswoman for NHS Grampian said: "Our IT teams have been working over the weekend in the affected GP surgeries".

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Experts advise people not to pay, as it would only encourage the attackers, there is no guarantee that they will unblock files, and may result in them gaining access to victims' bank details. The exploit was leaked last month as part of a trove of NSA spy tools.

On March 14, the company had released a security update to patch the vulnerability. But many corporations don't automatically update their systems, because Windows updates can screw up their legacy software programs.

The security flaw that hackers used to launch the attacks Friday was made public after information was stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency, which routinely searches for flaws in software and builds tools to exploit them.

Patients of the state-funded country-wide service are facing days of chaos as appointments and surgeries were cancelled after almost 45 NHS organisations from London to Scotland were hit in the "ransomware" attack on Friday.

It affected businesses, governments, and individuals across the globe, particularly those using Windows XP and other unsupported Microsoft operating systems.

Meanwhile, a global manhunt is on for the perpetrators of the attack that is being described as the biggest-ever cyber ransom attack. Fedex said Friday it was "experiencing interference with some of our Windows-based systems caused by malware".

More than 75,000 similar attacks reportedly happened in nearly 100 countries, with Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan hardest hit, according to the cybersecurity firm Avast.

A Jakarta hospital said yesterday that the cyber virus had infected 400 computers, disrupting the registration of patients and finding records.

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