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Microsoft partly blames US gov't for cyberattack

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Hospitals have been forced departments across the UKaz

And experts say the scope of the problem could expand as people return to work and fire up their computers.

Security experts say the unprecedented ransomware attack that on Friday locked up computers across the globe including United Kingdom hospital, FedEx, train systems in Germany among other institutions in exchange for payment, could cause even more trouble as the work week begins. Wainwright said Europol did not know the motive.

"The massive malware attack that hit multiple countries has caused chaos and has shut down vital institutions such as hospitals", U.S. Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) said Friday in a statement.

Clapper, who served as intelligence director under President Barack Obama, calls it a "very serious, serious problem".

Experts said Sunday it appeared that the ransomware had made just over $32,000, although they expected that number to pop when people went back into the office Monday.

According to the Associated Press, thousands of new cases were reported in Asia on Monday. The virus took control of users' files and demanded $300 payments to restore access, the BBC report said.

High-profile victims include hospitals in Britain, the Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, French carmaker Renault, US package delivery company FedEx, Russia's interior ministry and the German rail operator Deutsche Bahn.

The Beijing News said Sunday that students at several universities around the country reported being hit by the virus, which blocked access to their thesis papers and dissertation presentations. A 22-year old security researcher in the United Kingdom discovered a "kill-switch" to initially stop the spread of the attack.

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He added: "Healthcare remains vulnerable and if anything this one will raise awareness among the hacker community that hospitals are a target for them, this could just be the beginning". Pyotr Lidov, a spokesman for Megafon, said Friday's attacks froze computers in company's offices across Russian Federation. That cheap move redirected the attacks to MalwareTech's server, which operates as a "sinkhole" to keep malware from escaping.

While that quick thinking may have slowed the outbreak, MalwareTech said he was now looking into a possible second wave of attacks.

You can protect yourself by running updates, using firewalls and anti-virus software and by being wary when reading emailed messages. You need to launch it every time you boot your PC (provided you're allowed to run apps like this), but it could mean the difference between a productive day or explaining why your system is out of commission. "It can be tough to tell which patch is important, until it is too late".

The attack was spread through a vulnerability that was leaked last month in a trove of hacking tools believed to belong to the NSA. Those include a known and highly unsafe security hole in Microsoft Windows, tardy users who didn't apply Microsoft's March software fix, and malware created to spread quickly once inside university, business and government networks.

The ransomware exploited a vulnerability that has been patched in updates of recent versions of Windows since March, but Microsoft didn't make freely available the patch for Windows XP and other older systems. "So they no longer get the security updates they should be".

If you're facing a ransom demand and locked out of your files, law enforcement and cybersecurity experts discourage paying ransoms because it gives incentives to hackers and pays for their future attacks. Some cybersecurity experts are wondering if the vulnerability exposed with the leaked US government documents could be part of the attraction.

How many countries were affected?

"Obviously, they want those tools in order to spy on people of interest, on other countries, to conduct surveillance", Cluley said. "It's a handy thing to have, but it's a unsafe thing to have".

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