Australia and New Zealand largely escape global cyber attack

A hooded man holds a laptop computer as blue screen with an exclamation mark is projected on him in this illustration

"We've never seen anything like this", the head of the European Union's policing agency told Britain's ITV television Sunday, calling its reach "unprecedented".

So far there has been no progress reported in efforts to determine who launched the plot.

The malware has wormed its way into thousands of computer systems in an apparent extortion plot, shutting users out unless they coughed up a payment.

The cyber attack has affected more than 200,000 victims in around 150 countries.

The screen message further says that payment must be made in three days or the price is doubled, and if none is received in seven days, the files will be deleted.

Senior US security officials held another meeting in the White House Situation Room on Saturday, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency were working to help mitigate damage and identify the perpetrators of the massive cyber attack, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The countries, including India, were hit by what is believed to be the biggest-ever recorded cyberattack on Friday with investigators looking for those behind the hack that affected systems at banks, hospitals and government agencies globally, media reports said.

"Today many of our customers around the world and the critical systems they depend on were victims of malicious "WannaCrypt" software", Phillip Misner, principal security group manager at Microsoft's Security Response Center, said in a statement on the company's website.

In Indonesia, the malware locked patient files on computers in two hospitals in the capital, Jakarta, causing delays. He immediately claimed the URL for himself, spending about $11 to secure his access, and that greatly slowed the pace of infections in Britain.

Ransomware attacks have also been soaring.

WanaCryptor 2.0 is only part of the problem.

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"One of the most common methods of infecting computer systems is through links and attachments in emails".

Microsoft, the software the infected computers were running on, released a security update in March to protect against the virus, and called this incident a "wake-up call".

Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer, said in a blog post Sunday that it was in fact the NSA that developed the code being used in the attack.

If infected, disconnect the computer from the network so that other computers are not infected.

Another method, which preys on machines using outdated software, is visiting a malicious site. The company did issue a patch for Windows XP, but has otherwise largely stopped issuing updates for the software.

Telecommunications company Telefonica was among the targets in Spain.

A number of NHS organisations have been affected by a ransomware attack (an attack on the IT systems which support NHS services). The firm said it had warned about the exponential growth of ransomware, or crimeware, as well as the dangers of sophisticated surveillance tools used by governments.

He advised the public to report any suspected ransomware attack to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network.

Also backup any important data and ensure the latest WannaCry patch is installed.

Hundreds of hospitals and clinics in the British National Health Service were infected on Friday, forcing them to send patients to other facilities.