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Manhunt underway for hackers behind global WannaCry Ransomware cyberattack

20 Mai 2017

The assault, which began Friday and was being described as the biggest-ever cyber ransom attack, struck state agencies and major companies around the world - from Russian banks and British hospitals to FedEx and European auto factories.

Europol's Wainwright said few banks in Europe had been affected, having learned through the "painful experience of being the number one target of cyber crime" the value of having the latest cyber security in place.

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".

Dozens of countries were hit with a huge cyberextortion attack Friday that locked up computers and held users' files for ransom at a multitude of hospitals, companies and government agencies.

But experts and government alike warn against ceding to the hackers' demands.

"It only guarantees that the malicious actors receive the victim's money, and in some cases, their banking information".

The UK security researcher "MalwareTech", who helped to limit the ransomware attack, predicted "another one coming. quite likely on Monday", the BBC reported.

European officials said at least 100-thousand organizations in 150 countries were affected by global ransomware attack.

Most victims were quickly able to recover infected systems with backups, said the group's chief economist, Scott Borg.

"This may be because some expensive hardware, such as magnetic resonance imaging scanners, can not be updated immediately, and in such instances, organisations will take steps to mitigate any risk, such as by isolating the device from the main network".

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The cyber-extortion attack dubbed WannaCry spread very fast around the globe because of a blend of some unusual factors, including a highly vulnerable security hole in Microsoft Windows.

Jakub Kroustek, a malware researcher with Avast, a security software company in the Czech Republic, said in a blog post that Russian Federation was the most affected country so far.

The cyber crisis prompted an outpouring of comment from security companies eager to add their voices to the discussion.

Renault said it had halted auto production at several sites including Sandouville in northwestern France and plants of Renault-owned Dacia of Romania on Saturday to prevent the spread of ransomware in its systems.

Russia's interior ministry said some of its computers had been hit by a "virus attack" and that efforts were underway to destroy it.

The attack is still causing problems in some hospitals.

Germany's rail operator Deutsche Bahn said its station display panels were affected. Xinhua state news agency said some secondary schools and universities were hit.

Officials across the globe scrambled over the weekend to catch the culprits behind a massive ransomware worm that disrupted operations at vehicle factories, hospitals, shops and schools, while Microsoft on Sunday pinned blame on the USA government for not disclosing more software vulnerabilities.

"While the vast majority are running contemporary systems, we can confirm that the number of devices within the NHS that reportedly use XP has fallen to 4.7 per cent, with this figure continuing to decrease".

The researcher, tweeting as @MalwareTechBlog, said registering a domain name used by the malware stops it from spreading, though it can not help computers already affected.