- Hackers have launched a global cyberattack, tricking victims into opening ransomware in spam email with invoices, job offers, and security warnings, says security software maker Avast. It encrypts data in computers and demands US$300-600 to restore access; 57,000 infections have been seen in 99 countries.
Avast researchers believe the cyber criminals used hacking tools developed by the US National Security Agency. Among the worst affected so far are Fedex in the US, Telefonica in Spain, and hospitals in Britain where patients had to be turned away because computers had shut down.
Why it matters
- It exploits a bug in Windows to spread across a large infrastructure such as that of telecoms or healthcare; so it has potential to hit users and services, apart from those directly infected. Microsoft has released a security update to contain it.
- The ability of the hackers to hit large organizations like Fedex raises concerns over the increasing sophistication of ransomware.
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