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Europol: Ransomware Attack Compromised 200K Computers in Over 150 Countries

Europol has said a ransomware attack disrupted computers of at least 200,000 individuals in more than 150 countries, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

Jan Op Gen Oorth, a spokesman for Europol, said the agency expects the number of computer networks and people affected by the malware, dubbed WannaCry or WanaCryptor 2.0, to increase since “many workers left their computer turned on last Friday and will probably find out that they are also affected by the malware on Monday morning.”

Europol said it believes the WannaCry attack started to spread from the U.K. National Health Service Friday and disrupted computer networks in Germany, Russia, Spain, China and India.

The cyber attack also affected several other countries that include Brazil and Sweden as well as several companies such as FedEx, French automaker Renault and Spain-based telecommunications firm Telefonica.

Europol noted that only few individuals and firms have made a ransom payment of $300 to get a decryption key to unlock their computers.

A 22-year-old U.K.-based cybersecurity researcher with a Twitter handle @MalwareTechBlog helped stem the spread of the cyber attack by buying the domain name associated with a “kill switch” that hackers built to stop the malware once the victims make ransom payments, the report added.

Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, wrote in a Sunday blog post that the malware attack leveraged a National Security Agency-built hacking tool that leaked on the internet in April, Reuters reported Sunday.

“We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world,” Smith noted.

“This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem,” he added.

A senior White House official told Reuters that President Donald Trump asked Tom Bossert, the administration’s homeland security adviser, to hold an emergency meeting to evaluate the cyber threat.

The FBI and NSA have begun efforts to identify the threat actors responsible for the ransomware attack, the official added.

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