Log In, Look Out: Cyber Chaos May Grow At Workweek's Start

Kill switch stops spread of ransomware cyber attacksMore

That quick thinking may have saved governments and companies millions of dollars and slowed the outbreak before US -based computers were more widely infected.

A top Russian mobile operator said Friday it had come under cyberattacks that appeared similar to those that have crippled some United Kingdom hospitals.

The government recommends strong prevention measures as the best defense against ransomware attacks, including: strong spam filters, making sure software is patched and up to date, using anti-virus software, and regularly backing up data.

In a blog post, the company responded to the attacks with a wake-up call for governments, criticizing their stockpiling efforts of software vulnerabilities.

"There are other criminals who've launched this attack, and they are ultimately responsible for this", he said.

Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who exposed the broad scope of NSA surveillance in 2013, tweeted, "If @NSAGov had privately disclosed the flaw used to attack hospitals when they *found* it, not when they lost it, this may not have happened".

While a key URL that enabled the worm's spread has been disabled, the ransomware can still spread to unpatched systems running legacy versions of Windows and requiring a proxy to access the Internet - the norm for corporate networks.

Global cyber chaos was spreading Monday as companies booted up computers at work following the weekend's worldwide "ransomware" cyberattack.

"That's what makes this more troubling than ransomware was a week ago", Thakur said.

"The crisis isn't over, they can always change the code and try again", @MalwareTechBlog said. The FBI says the typical ransom runs between $200 and $10,000.

The effects were felt across the globe, with Russia's Interior Ministry and companies including Spain's Telefonica, FedEx Corp.in the USA and French carmaker Renault all reporting disruptions.

A new ransomware named "Wannacry" is spreading globally that encrypts files on the infected Windows PCs. Brad Smith criticized USA intelligence agencies, including the CIA and National Security Agency, for "stockpiling" software code that can be used by hackers.

Ryan Kalember, senior vice president at Proofpoint Inc. which helped stop its spread, said the version without a kill switch could spread. "As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, there is simply no way for customers to protect themselves against threats unless they update their systems", BBC quoted Smith as saying.

Before Friday's attack, Microsoft had made fixes for older systems, such as 2001's Windows XP, available only to mostly larger organizations that paid extra for extended technical support.

On 14 April, the malware was made available online through a dump by a group called Shadow Brokers, which claimed previous year to have stolen a cache of "cyber weapons" from the National Security Agency.

Russian cellular phone operators Megafon and MTS said some of their computers were hit and the Russian national railway system said although it was attacked, rail operations were unaffected.

'The growth rate of infected institutions on Monday has slowed significantly compared to the previous two days, ' said Chinese Internet security company Qihoo 360.

Germany's national railway said Saturday departure and arrival display screens at its train stations were affected, but there was no impact on actual train services. Renault's futuristic assembly line in Slovenia, where rows of robots weld auto bodies together, was stopped cold.

In addition to homes and government agencies, Friday's attack hit companies like Fedex and Spain's biggest telecom firm, Telefonica.

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