Cyber experts wary but hopeful that ransomeware attacks subsiding

Sixteen National Health Service organizations in the United Kingdom were hit, and some of those hospitals canceled outpatient appointments and told people to avoid emergency departments if possible.

Bossert said "criminals" are responsible, not the USA government.

The indiscriminate attack began Friday and struck banks, hospitals and government agencies, exploiting known vulnerabilities in older Microsoft computer operating systems. Suiche, founder of Comae Technologies, said on Sunday he registered another kill-switch for a different version of the ransomware.

The cross-border police agency Europol said the situation was "stable", easing fears that attacks that struck computers in British hospital wards, European vehicle factories and Russian banks would spread further at the start of the working week.

In France, auto manufacturer Renault said one of its plants, which employs 3,500 people in Douai, northern France, wasn't reopening Monday as technicians continued to deal with the aftermath of the global cyberattack.

A number of hospitals in England and Scotland were forced to cancel procedures after dozens of NHS systems were brought down, with doctors reporting how their computers were locked "one by one" as the attack spread over the weekend.

Avast, an global security-software firm that claims it has 400 million users worldwide, said the ransomware attacks rose rapidly Saturday to a peak of 57,000 detected intrusions.

Europe's police agency Europol said Sunday the attack had already affected more than 100,000 organizations with so-called ransomware, which locks computer files unless the user pays money. Companies including Hitachi and Nissan Motor Co. reported problems but said they said had not seriously affected their business operations.


Also on Saturday, a high school student in northern Taiwan's Taoyuan reported that his computer was attacked by the ransomware which encrypted his files and demanded US$600 in Bitcoin to decrypt them.

His move may have saved governments and companies millions of dollars and slowed the outbreak before US-based computers were more widely infected. "The latest count is over 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries, and those victims, many of those will be businesses, including large corporations", he said.

But many companies and individuals haven't installed the fixes yet, or are using older versions of Windows that Microsoft no longer supports and didn't fix.

"I'm anxious about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn on their machines on Monday", he said.

"Right now, just about every IT department has been working all weekend rolling this out", said Dan Wire, spokesman at Fireeye Security.

The NSA alerted Microsoft about the issue three months ago and the company released an upgrade that patched the flaw.

"Our Data Security Centre continues to work around the clock alongside the National Cyber Security Centre, to support NHS organisations that have reported any issues related to this cyber-attack", the body said - alongside issuing guidance on protecting against the cyberattack, explaining which patches to apply.

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