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2 lakh hit by 'unprecedented' cyberhack in 150 nations: Europol

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This was the message found on many computers of Britain's national health services last Friday

"The global reach is unprecedented".

The attacks, which made over 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries, affect only computers running Microsoft Corp.s Windows that havent installed the security patch that the company released in March, or the emergency patch it released for older Windows systems over the weekend.

"The numbers are going up, I am anxious about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn (on) their machines on Monday morning", Europol Director Rob Wainwright said.

In France, auto manufacturer Renault said one of its plants, which employs 3,500 people in Douai, northern France, wasn't reopening Monday as technicians continued to deal with the aftermath of the global cyberattack.

An worldwide manhunt was under way for the plotters behind the world's biggest-ever computer ransom assault which has affected more than 150 countries.

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, including Torbay and Newton Abbot Hospitals, was not affected by the attack.

In Australia, Alistair MacGibbon, special advisor to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Cyber Security, said some small businesses would likely be hit "but as a whole of nation we can be confident, so far, that we have missed the worst of this".

"We need governments to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits".

Experts say this vulnerability has been understood among experts for months, yet too many groups failed to take it seriously.

United Kingdom politicians are harnessing the attacks to criticize the U.K.'s Conservative Party of Prime Minister Theresa May, which made cuts to the NHS system, Willem Marx reports for NPR's Newscast unit.

Local experts on Saturday scrambled to ensure hospitals and other public facilities did not fall victim to the massive ransomware operation, which had seen patients turned away and operations cancelled in Britain.

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In China, "hundreds of thousands" of computers were affected, including petrol stations, cash machines and universities, according to Qihoo 360, one of China's largest providers of antivirus software.

They advised those whose networks have been effectively shut down by the ransomware attack not to make the payment demanded - the equivalent of $300, paid in the digital currency bitcoin, delivered to a likely untraceable destination that consists merely of a lengthy string of letters and numbers.

The virus exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows software, first identified by the US National Security Agency. It is also understood that the attack even affected American companies.

Mr Oorth said the main challenge was the fast-spreading capabilities of the malware, but added that, so far, not many people have paid the ransoms that the virus demands.

Although a temporary fix earlier slowed the infection rate, the attackers had now released a new version of the Ransomware.

In a blog post on Sunday, Microsoft President Brad Smith confirmed what researchers had already widely concluded: the attack made use of a hacking tool built by the US National Security Agency that had leaked online in April.

On Sunday MalwareTech issued a warning that hackers could upgrade the virus to remove the kill switch.

"We will get a decryption tool eventually, but for the moment, it's still a live threat and we're still in disaster recovery mode", the report quoted Europol Director Rob Wainwright as saying.

"You're only safe if you patch ASAP", he warned.

Microsoft took aim at the US government for "stockpiling" software code that was used by unknown hackers to launch the attacks.

“There will be lessons to learn from what appears to be the biggest criminal cyber-attack in history, ” Rudd said cited by Bloomberg in response to a letter from Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow secretary of state for health.

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