Six NHS trusts yet to return to normal after cyber attack

According to the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (USCRT), under the Department of Homeland Security, ransomware spreads easily when it encounters unpatched or outdated software.

By the time they turned their attention to the United States, spam filters had identified the new threat and flagged the ransomware-laden emails as malicious, Thakur added.

In a statement, Kaspersky Labs said it was "trying to determine whether it is possible to decrypt data locked in the attack - with the aim of developing a decryption tool as soon as possible".

The 22-year-old Britain-based researcher, identified online only as MalwareTech, explained Saturday how he inadvertently discovered Friday that the software's spread could be stopped by registering a garbled domain name.

"The numbers are extremely low and coming down fast", he said, while cautioning that any change in the original code could lead the worm to flare up again.

This means the NHS - which largely still uses Windows XP - can now protect itself from this attack at no extra cost, reports the BBC's North America technology reporter Dave Lee.

"The NCSC is monitoring the situation carefully, and cooperating with the HSE, with industry and with the Garda Cyber Crime Bureau", they said.

Speaking after chairing an emergency Cobra meeting, Amber Rudd added that all but five NHS England trusts are now back to normal, praising the "good work" and "resilience" of NHS staff in making this happen.

"The recent attack is at an unprecedented level and will require a complex worldwide investigation to identify the culprits", said Europol, Europe's policing agency.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported a university hospital had been affected, while a communications official in Indonesia said two hospitals there had been affected.

Germany's Deutsche Bahn computers were also impacted, with the rail operator reporting that station display panels were affected.

The ransomware encrypted data on the computers, demanding payments of $300 to $600 to restore access. Shortly after that disclosure, Microsoft announced that it had already issued software "patches", or fixes, for those holes - but many users haven't yet installed the fixes or are using older versions of Windows.

He said it's likely the ransomware will spread to USA firms too. In February 2016, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in California said it had paid a $17,000 ransom to regain control of its computers from hackers.

It also may never be known how much the hackers have netted from the ransomware attack.

"Ransomware becomes particularly nasty when it infects institutions like hospitals, where it can put people's lives in danger", said Kroustek, the Avast analyst.

Barts Health NHS Trust in London was "experiencing a major IT disruption and there are delays at all of our hospitals", its website said. The attack froze computers at hospitals across the country, with some cancelling all routine procedures. Management quickly told the around 15,000 employees to turn off their computers until further notice. No NHS Trusts reported paying a ransom or informed law enforcement of the attacks; all preferred to deal with the attacks internally, said SentinelOne, which received responses from 94 of 129 NHS Trusts.

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