Update: In a shocking revelation, The FT reports that hackers responsible for the wave of cyber attacks that struck organisations across the globe used tools stolen from the US National Security Agency.
A hacking tool known as “eternal blue”, developed by US spies has been weaponised by the hackers to super-charge an existing form of ransomware known as WannaCry, three senior cyber security analysts said. Their reading of events was confirmed by western security officials who are still scrambling to contain the spread of the attack. The NSA’s eternal blue exploit allows the malware to spread through file-sharing protocols set up across organisations, many of which span the globe.
As Sam Coates summed up…
NHS hack: So NSA had secret backdoor into Windows. Details leaked few weeks ago. Now backdoor being exploited by random criminals. Nightmare
— Sam Coates Times (@SamCoatesTimes) May 12, 2017
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We earlier reported in the disturbing fact that hospitals across the United Kingdom had gone dark due to a massive cyber-attack…
Hospitals across the UK have been hit by what appears to be a major, nationwide cyber-attack, resulting in the loss of phonelines and computers, with many hospitals going “dark” and some diverting all but emergency patients elsewhere. At some hospitals patients are being told not to come to A&E with all non-urgent operations cancelled, the BBC reports.
The UK National Health Service said: “We’re aware that a number of trusts that have reported potential issues to the CareCERT team. We believe it to be ransomware.” It added that trusts and hospitals in London, Blackburn, Nottingham, Cumbria and Hertfordshire have been affected and are reporting IT failures, in some cases meaning there is no way of operating phones or computers.
At Lister Hospital in Stevenage, the telephone and computer system has been fully disabled in an attempt to fend off the attack.
NHS England says it is aware of the issue and is looking into it.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May confirms today’s massive cyber hit on NHS is part of wider international attack and there is no evidence patient data has been compromised.
— Sky News Tonight (@SkyNewsTonight) May 12, 2017
The situation has got significantly worse as The BBC reports the ransomware attack has gone global.
Screenshots of a well known program that locks computers and demands a payment in Bitcoin have been shared online by parties claiming to be affected.
It is not yet clear whether the attacks are all connected. One cyber-security researcher tweeted that he had detected 36,000 instances of the ransomware, called WannaCry and variants of that name.
“This is huge,” he said.
There have been reports of infections in the UK, US, China, Russia, Spain, Italy, Vietnam, Taiwan and others.
The BBB details a number of Spanish firms were among the apparent victims elsewhere in Europe.
Telecoms giant Telefonica said in a statement that it was aware of a “cybersecurity incident” but that clients and services had not been affected.
Power firm Iberdrola and utility provider Gas Natural were also reported to have suffered from the outbreak.
There were reports that staff at the firms were told to turn off their computers.
In Italy, one user shared images appearing to show a university computer lab with machines locked by the same program.
Bitcoin wallets seemingly associated with the ransomware were reported to have already started filling up with cash.
“This is a major cyber attack, impacting organisations across Europe at a scale I’ve never seen before,” said security architect Kevin Beaumont.
According to security firm Check Point, the version of the ransomware that appeared today is a new variant.
“Even so, it’s spreading fast,” said Aatish Pattni, head of threat prevention for northern Europe.
Several experts monitoring the situation have linked the attacks to vulnerabilities released by a group known as The Shadow Brokers, which recently claimed to have dumped hacking tools stolen from the NSA.