Ransomware spreads globally, infects computers in over 74 nations

World Today

A fast-moving computer virus is spreading across the globe. Infected computers shut down hospitals in the U.K. and that’s not all.

One report said the ‘ransom-ware’ has struck more than 45,000 targets in at least 74 countries.

CGTN’s Jim Spellman reports.

Ransomware spreads globally, infects computers in over 74 nations

A fast-moving computer virus is spreading across the globe. Infected computers shut down hospitals in the U.K and that's not all.

The cyber-attack first came to light Friday in the U.K. when National Health Service computers began showing this message:

“Your files have been encrypted.”

It said if you want them back pay 300 dollars using Bitcoin, the anonymous digital currency.

The attack hit at least 16 NHS facilities. Some were restricted to treating only emergencies as authorities struggled to recover.

Spanish communications firm Telefonica and other European companies were also targeted by the hack. The scale of the attack is not yet clear.

“This was not targeted at the NHS, it’s an international attack. A number of countries and origination have been affected. The National Cyber Security Centre is working closely with NHS digital to ensure that they support the origination concerned and that they protect patients safety. And we’re not aware of any evidence that patient data has been compromised,” UK Prime Minister Theresa May said.

The malware used in the attack is known as ransomware; hackers essentially hold the computers hostage hoping the victims will pay the ransom to get their data back safely.

“This kind of ransomware attack has been becoming much more common in recent months so in a way it’s perhaps no surprise. On the face of it, it seems clear that the relevant authorities have responded very quickly to try and limit the damage,” Nigel Inkster, former director of Operations and Intelligence at British Intelligence Service MI6 said.

UK authorities believe this was a ransomware program known as Wanna Decryptor. It’s a program that has been circulating for several months on a difficult to access and largely anonymous part of the internet known as the Dark Web.