Nations race to contain widespread hacking

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Officials in nearly 100 countries raced May 13 to contain one of the biggest cybersecurity attacks in recent history, as British doctors were forced to cancel operations, Chinese students were blocked from accessing their graduation theses, and passengers at train stations in Germany were greeted by hacked arrival and departure screens.

Companies and organizations around the world potentially faced substantial costs after hackers threatened to keep computers disabled unless victims paid $300 or more in ransom, the latest and most brazen in a type of cyberattack known as “ransomware.” The malware hit Britain’s beloved but creaky National Health Service particularly hard, causing widespread disruptions and interrupting medical procedures across hospitals in England and Scotland. The government said that 48 of the NHS’s 248 organizations were affected, but by Saturday evening all but six were back to normal. The attack was notable because it took advantage of a security flaw in Microsoft software found by the National Security Agency for its surveillance tool kit. Files detailing the capability were leaked online in April 2017, though after Microsoft, alerted by the NSA to the vulnerability, had sent updates to computers to patch the hole. Still, countless systems were left vulnerable, either because system administrators failed to apply the patch or because they used outdated software.

Nations race to contain widespread hacking Massive ransomware cyber-attack hits nearly 100 countries around the world (The Guardian)