Companies prepare for more ransomware attacks on Monday

Companies prepare for more ransomware attacks on Monday

Companies prepare for more ransomware attacks on Monday

"The recent attack is at an unprecedented level and will require a complex worldwide investigation to identify the culprits", the European police agency added.

Europol said a special task force at its European Cybercrime Centre was "specially created to assist in such investigations and will play an important role in supporting the investigation".

The latest virus attack last week exploits a flaw in a version of Microsoft Windows first identified by U.S. intelligence.

This ransom ware which locked users files demands a $300 payment to allow access.

Experts and governments alike warn against ceding to the demands and Wainwright said few victims so far had been paying up. "Attacks have leverage over their victims by encrypting valuable files and leaving them inaccessible", he said.

Experts and officials offered differing estimates of the scope of the attacks, but all agreed it was huge.

"The very nature of this particular malware, this sort of ransomware attack, is very potent because unlike more routine ones this one has used a sort of worm to exploit the operating system and bolted on a ransomware so that it spread incredibly quickly in hours not weeks or days", Wallace said.

Microsoft had "patched", or fixed it, in updates of recent versions of Windows since March, but many users did not apply the software fix.

Though a British security researcher "MalwareTech" managed to stop the spread of the virus, hackers have issued new versions that cybersecurity organisations are trying to counter.

"This is a virus that attacked Windows platforms". Cybersecurity experts say the unknown hackers who launched the attacks used a vulnerability that was exposed in NSA documents leaked online.

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The companies and government agencies targeted were diverse.

"I still expect another to pop up and be fully operational", Kalember said.

Security minister Ben Wallace said the NHS had followed some "pretty good procedures" in combating the cyber attack.

Shanghai's Fudan University received reports that a large number of school computers were infected with the virus. "Our immediate priority as a government is to disrupt the attack, restore affected services as soon as possible, and establish who was behind it".

On Saturday, a cyber security researcher told AFP he had accidentally discovered a "kill switch" that could prevent the spread of the ransomware. Capitalizing on spying tools believed to have been developed by the US National Security Agency, hackers staged a cyber assault with a self-spreading malware that has infected tens of thousands of computers in almost 100 countries.

"If you have anything to patch, patch it", the researcher said in a blog post. "There were the same attacks applied to Nissan on Friday and in other areas of the economy and indeed around the world", Fallon said.

The Financial Times reported that the list of organizations hit by WannaCry has steadily lengthened: alongside Britain's National Health Service, victims include the Deutsche Bahn, FedEx, Russia's ministry of the interior, Renault, Telefónica and China National Petroleum Corp.

However Home Secretary Amber Rudd said it was important to remember that it was not just the NHS which had been affected.

He insisted individual trusts have enough money to protect themselves against cyber attacks, saying: "We make sure the trusts are aware of their vulnerabilities and ask them to make sure they keep themselves up to date".