The Friday global cyber attack that hit universities, businesses and health systems has raised alarm among institutions and security experts, affecting over 150 countries. United Kingdom was the first and the worst affected, suffering the hit with 48 National Health Organizations hit, a tragedy that robed of the institution test results, x-rays and patient records, leading to suspension of operations. However, all these institutions except six agencies have already embarked on normal operations with their patient data intact.
In a political debate that was held on Sunday in UK, the Conservative government was accused by both Labor Party and Liberal Democrats for failure to prevent the breach and demand for an investigation. The labor party further claimed that the Conservatives slashed the IT budget meant for NHS and failed to renew a contract meant to protect its computer systems. In response, Michael Fallon, the British Defense Minister told BBC of the government’s attempts to restore the NHS cybersecurity with the set aside $64 million.
Of the 200,000 computers which were hit (as reported on Sunday), many belonged to the government agencies and other big institutions around the world. Big institutions suffered vulnerability due to outdated technology, one of them being the NHS. This figure had risen from Friday’s 75,000.
This attack has seen the US President Trump signing an executive order to safeguard his nation’s IT system which is also said to be aging. This occurred following an emergency meeting Trump had called to assess the cyberattack threat, followed by another meeting on Saturday meant to find out the perpetrators.
The hacking was termed ‘unprecedented’ by Europol Rich Barger, US security expert recognized it as the largest ever global ransomware attack to confront the cyber community across the globe.
Spain’s Telefonica, Iberdrola and Gas Natural also suffered the attack. US FedEx also had its Windows Computers Hacked. In Russia’s interior ministry, 1000 computers got infected but the ministry later on handled the virus and reported to have lost no sensitive information. Germany Railway company, Deutsche Bahn, North England’s Nissan Manufacturing Center, Renault (Car Manufacturer in French) and several institutions in China were all affected with this attack.
On Saturday, the New York Times reported that all infected computer systems around the globe were asked via email to pay $300 to $600 in form of bitcoin so as to have their devices unlocked, a command that was promptly obeyed by most users in fear of their systems’ collapse. This means that the hackers gained around $1 billion!
Experts now believe that the hackers used a tool which had been developed by US National Urgency to perpetrate their hacking on Microsoft Windows Computers. It is therefore believed that ransomware greatly contributes to the organizational infiltration in US.
One of the committed British cybersecurity researcher reported to have discovered the ‘kill switch’ which seemed to prevent the spread of malware. The researcher noticed the virus searching for the unregistered address. Oblivious of the effect, he tried to register the domain only to find out he had already halted the spread.
On Saturday, the founder of the United Arab Emirates cybersecurity Company’s founder Matthieu Suiche reported that the killswitch could temporarily minimize the impact in US. It is still feared by security experts and government officials that additional hackers may alter malware codes and conduct another similar attack.
As stated to Reuters, Japanese government cybersecurity advisor Willian Saito warned that most companies may possibly fail to realize that their systems were affected, till Monday.
To sum up, despite all the speculations, it is still unclear who or what caused the attack. It may require months to conduct investigations aimed at establishing full evidence.