Dozens of countries hit by huge cyberextortion attack

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WannaCry is a form of "ransomware" that locks up the files on your computer and encrypts them in a way that you can not access them anymore. "They said they started the system again".

The malicious software has infected more than 75,000 computers in 99 countries worldwide on Friday, majority concentrated in Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan, according to Dutch cybersecurity company Avast Software BV.

A precautionary "major incident" has been raised and the HSE will treat this as a "major incident" during this time and until further information is known.

The statement said "due to the efficient cooperation between the institutions, the attack was prevented as were damages, as the targets were identified as well as the methodology of the attack".

Extortionist hackers who may be using leaked computer exploits from the U.S. National Security Agency infiltrated computers in dozens of countries in a fast-spreading attack that forced British hospitals to turn away patients and breached systems at Spain's Telefonica SA and organizations from Russian Federation to Taiwan.

Worldwide shipper FedEx Corp said some of its Windows computers were also infected. The company said it was "implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible".

At least 16 organizations connected to the National Health Service (NHS) in England reported being affected.

"The numbers are extremely low and coming down fast", he said, while cautioning that any change in the original code could lead the worm to flare up again.

British based cyber researcher Chris Doman of AlienVault said the ransomware "looks to be targeting a wide range of countries", with initial evidence of infections in at least two dozen nations according to experts from three security firms.

Some of the companies that were targeted in the worldwide cyberattack included global shipper FedEx Corp, Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica and French aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

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Telefónica seems to be the first company affected, after it told employees today to stop working and shut down their computers, according to Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

The malware, Wanna Cry, uses an exploit named EternalBlue to infect computers running versions of Windows operating systems.

It's been a matter of weeks since a shady hacker crew called Shadow Brokers dumped a load of tools believed to belong to the National Security Agency (NSA).

In the USA, the Computer Emergency Readiness Team, or CERT, says it has "received multiple reports of ransomware infections in several countries around the world".

An IT worker at the public health care system tells The Guardian newspaper that it's the biggest problem they've seen in their six years working for the service. Here's how to turn automatic updates on.

Microsoft released a patch to address the vulnerability, but networks that did not adopt it would have remained vulnerable.

It was not immediately clear how many Spanish organizations had been compromised by the attacks, if any critical services had been interrupted or whether victims had paid cyber criminals to regain access to their networks. In an update after midnight local time, Russia's Interior Ministry acknowledged to state-run Tass media that its computers had been hit.

"You could just walk up to your computer and it's infected, even if you didn't even touch it". Over 70 per cent of the computer systems affected in the Wanna Cry attack were located in Russia, Kaspersky noted.

Although cyber extortion cases have been rising for several years, they have to date affected small-to-mid sized organisations, disrupting services provided by hospitals, police departments, public transportation systems and utilities in the United States and Europe.