No second spike in cyber attacks is 'encouraging' - British minister

Cyber security experts have said the majority of the attacks targeted Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan. Microsoft had issued a patch on March 14, but many computers hadn't run the update.

"At this stage we haven't seen the impact that they have seen in the United Kingdom, for example", Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said.

Tehan declined to provide details on the three affected companies, but said the first Australian company reported as hit was not "a government organization or a hospital or anything like that".

An worldwide manhunt was well under way for the plotters behind the world's biggest-ever computer ransom assault. "Our immediate priority as a government is to disrupt the attack, restore affected services as soon as possible, and establish who was behind it".

After taking computers over, it displayed messages demanding a payment of $300 in virtual currency Bitcoin to unlock files and return them to the user.

Hospitals are also fertile ground for identity thieves, due to their often-lax security policies.

Symantec, a cybersecurity company, predicted infections would cost tens of millions of dollars, mostly from cleaning corporate networks. Bad guys generally target Windows far more than Apple's operating system because there are vastly more computers running Windows around the world.

Around a fifth of the UK's NHS trusts were affected by the virus, also known as WannaCry, with concerns being raised that many sensitive networks were vulnerable because they were still using outdated Windows XP software.

The Windows vulnerability in question was purportedly identified by the NSA for its own intelligence-gathering purposes.

May 15, 2017 by Chloe Best Protect your computer and devices from the cyber attack that has hit 150 countries around the world with this advice from the National Cyber Security Centre.

Companies and institutions are often slow to update their computers because it can screw up internal software that is built to work with a certain version of Windows.

The effects were felt across the globe, with Russia's Interior Ministry and companies including Spain's Telefonica, FedEx the US and French carmaker Renault all reporting disruptions.

The president of Microsoft laid some of the blame at the feet of the US government.

Wainwright said Europol had been concerned about cyber security in the healthcare sector, which deals with a lot of sensitive data, but declined to comment on whether Britain's National Health Service had been adequately funded.

"People going back to work on Monday may switch on their computers and see their systems have been impacted", he said.

The attack was one of the largest ransomware attacks in history. The attack on Britain's NHS was potentially the most devastating as thousands of patients' appointments were cancelled, ambulances rerouted, records lost and chaos followed, despite the warnings delivered, some as recently as previous year, on the vulnerability of outdated systems.

"In particular, making sure that our data is properly backed up and making sure that we are using the software patches, the anti-virus patches, that are sent out regularly by manufacturers".

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