The WannaCry malware attack that started in the UK on May 12 has reportedly spread to more than 70 countries, including the US, Italy, China, and Russia. The attack exploits a Microsoft Windows vulnerability dubbed 'EternalBlue' (MS17-010) that was recently leaked to the public by the Shadow Brokers hacker group. The vulnerability allows the malware to encrypt files, folders, and drives, rendering them unusable. The malware also produces a message demanding a ransom payment in bitcoin in exchange for a decryption key.
UK Initially Targeted
The ransomware cyberattack began affecting National Health Service (NHS) IT infrastructure at multiple hospitals in England on the afternoon of May 12, preventing medical personnel from accessing computer systems responsible for patient records and other associated data. Authorities said at least 16 NHS organizations had been affected, including hospitals and trusts in London, Blackburn, Hertfordshire, Nottingham, Cumbria, and Warwickshire. East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust said their phone systems had also malfunctioned. Health officials in Scotland announced that IT infrastructure at facilities in Dumfries and Galloway had also been affected.
Officials advised the public to only seek medical care for urgent conditions until the situation was resolved. The cyberattack caused significant disruptions to service at public health facilities; some affected facilities shut down their computer systems. Patients were relocated to medical facilities unaffected by the cyberattack. Authorities implemented contingency plans to deal with the IT outage. Government officials did not provide a time frame for the normalization of services.
Organizations and individuals worldwide should observe the following strict cybersecurity precautions:
Ensure that computers and mobile devices are running the latest available operating system and have the latest security patches installed. Update security software on all devices, especially before remotely accessing corporate networks
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