Global Cyberattacks Appear to Ease,
Except in Asia
May 15, 2017
The worldwide "ransomware" cyberattacks appeared to ease Monday,
although thousands more computers, mostly in Asia, were hit as people
signed in at work for the first time since the infections spread to 150
countries three days ago.
Health officials in Britain, where surgeries and doctors' appointments
in its national health care system had been severely impacted Friday,
were still having problems Monday. But health minister Jeremy Hunt said
it was "encouraging" that a second wave of attacks had not materialized.
He said "the level of criminal activity is at the lower end of the range
that we had anticipated."
In the United States, Tom Bossert, a homeland security adviser to
President Donald Trump, told the ABC television network the global
cybersecurity attack is something that "for right now, we've got under
But he described the malware that paralyzed 200,000 computers running
factories, banks, government agencies, hospitals and transportation
systems across the globe as an "extremely serious threat."
Cybersecurity experts say the unknown hackers behind the "WannaCry"
ransomware attacks, who demanded $300 payments to decrypt files locked
by the malware, used a vulnerability that came from U.S. government
documents leaked online. The attacks exploited known vulnerabilities in
older Microsoft computer operating systems.
During the weekend, Microsoft president Brad Smith said the clandestine
U.S. National Security Agency had developed the code used in the attack.
Bossert said "criminals," not the U.S. government, are responsible for
the attacks. Experts believe Microsoft's security patch released in
March should protect networks if companies and individual users install
Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country had nothing to do with
the attack and cited the Microsoft statement blaming the NSA for causing
the worldwide cyberattack.
"A genie let out of a bottle of this kind, especially created by secret
services, can then cause damage to its authors and creators," Putin said
while attending an international summit in Beijing. He said that while
there was "no significant damage" to Russian institutions from the
cyberattack, the incident was "worrisome."
"There is nothing good in this and calls for concern," he said.
Even though there appeared to be a diminished number of attacks Monday,
computer outages still affected segments of life across the globe,
especially in Asia, where Friday's attacks occurred after business
China said 29,000 institutions had been affected, along with hundreds of
thousands of devices. Japan's computer emergency response team said
2,000 computers at 600 locations were affected there.
Universities and other educational institutions appeared to be the
hardest hit in China. China's Xinhua News Agency said railway stations,
mail delivery, gas stations, hospitals, office buildings, shopping malls
and government services also were affected.
Elsewhere, Britain said seven of the 47 trusts that run its national
health care system were still affected, with some surgeries and
outpatient appointments canceled as a result. In France, auto
manufacturer Renault said one of its plants that employs 3,500 workers
stayed shut Monday as technicians dealt with the aftermath of the Friday
security experts have assured individual computer users who have kept
their operating systems updated that they are relatively safe, but urged
companies and governments to make sure they apply security patches or
upgrade to newer systems.
They advised those whose networks have been effectively shut down by the
ransomware attack not to make the payment demanded, the equivalent of
$300, paid in the digital currency bitcoin.
However, the authors of the "WannaCry" ransomware attack told their
victims the amount they must pay will double if they do not comply
within three days of the original infection, by Monday in most cases.
The hackers warned that they will delete all files on infected systems
if no payment is received within seven days.