Ransomware Cyber attack threat escalating: Europol

"The numbers are going up, I am anxious about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn (on) their machines on Monday morning", Europol Director Rob Wainwright said.

Lord Paddick, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: "We need to get to the bottom of why the Government thought cyber attacks were not a risk, when a combination of warnings and plain common sense should have told ministers that there is a growing and unsafe threat to our cyber security". The numbers are going up.

He warned that more people may be hit by the virus Monday when they return to work and switch on their computers.

"Expect to hear a lot more about this tomorrow morning when users are back in their offices and might fall for phishing emails" or other as yet unconfirmed ways the worm may propagate, said Christian Karam, a Singapore-based security researcher.

But U.K. hospitals, Chinese universities and global firms like Fedex also reported they had come under assault.

Meanwhile, Turkey's Information and Communications Authority BTK said on Saturday an operation to prevent further spread of the malware continued and urged people to update their antivirus programs and scan their computer systems.

The Beijing News said Sunday that students at several universities around the country reported being hit by the virus, which blocked access to their thesis papers and dissertation presentations.

"We've never seen anything like this", the head of the European Union's policing agency told Britain's ITV television, calling its reach "unprecedented".

A patch for the vulnerability was released by Microsoft in March, which would have automatically protected those computers with Windows Update enabled.

Organisations across the planet were hit by the "WannaCry" bug, which locked computer users out of their systems and demanded payment to a Bitcoin account. Russia's health ministry said its attacks were "effectively repelled".

Russian Federation and Britain were among the worst hit countries.

But MalwareTech said sinkholing would only stop the spread until hackers removed the domain check and tried again.

He said few banks in Europe had been affected, having learned through the "painful experience of being the number one target of cybercrime" the value of having the latest cyber security in place.

But Europol considers ransomware attacks as criminal as few payments had so far been made i response to the attack.

Investigators are working to track down those responsible for the ransomware used on Friday, known as Wanna Decryptor or WannaCry.

Security agencies have so far not been able to identify who was behind the attack.

Britain's National Health Service fell victim, its hospitals forced to close wards and emergency rooms and turn away patients.

However, it seems that many NHS trusts had not applied it or were using an older version of the operating system which is no longer supported - Windows XP.

This is already believed to be the biggest online extortion attack ever recorded, disrupting computers that run factories, banks, government agencies and transport systems in nations as diverse as Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, Spain, India and the US.

Labour's shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth, in a letter to Mr Hunt, said concerns were repeatedly flagged about outdated computer systems.

Security experts have warned that another attack is imminent, most likely on Monday, and could be unstoppable.

United Kingdom defense secretary Michael Fallon said Sunday that Britain's nuclear submarines were safe from cyberattack.

UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd said on Saturday that the problem was largely resolved but that "there's always more" that could be done to protect against computer viruses.

Dr Jakobsson said: "There's absolutely no excuse for any business not to have up to date systems".

The Nissan plant in Sunderland is among the companies hit by the "unprecedented" worldwide ransomware attack.

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