Cyber attack could spark lawsuits but not against Microsoft

Global investigators hunted Saturday for those behind an unprecedented cyber-attack that affected systems in dozens of countries, including at banks, hospitals and government agencies, as security experts sought to contain the fallout.

"It does seems as if USA higher ed was not badly hit by this attack, and reports from other information-sharing organizations indicate that US sectors [and] regions may have been able to mitigate the threats and contain damage", Kim Milford, executive director of REN-ISAC (short for the Research and Education Networking Information Sharing and Analysis Center), said in an email.

HOSPITALS and GP surgeries are returning to normal after cyber hackers shut down computer systems.

The attack held hospitals and other entities hostage by freezing computers, encrypting their data and demanding money through online bitcoin payment - $300 at first, rising to $600 before it destroys files hours later.

The health service has been criticised for using the outdated Windows XP operating system to store digital information, despite security updates for the software having been discontinued by Microsoft.

"There are other criminals who've launched this attack, and they are ultimately responsible for this", he said from his home in Oxford, England.

"They have been working I know through the night nearly to make sure patches are in place to make sure that hopefully the NHS services can get back to normal", Wallace told BBC Radio. "It was clear warnings were given to hospital trusts but this is not something that focused on attacking the NHS here on the United Kingdom".

As of Friday, HITRUST said it had not received any reports of an attack on a USA hospital.

Cyber-attacks on the scale of WannaCry may remind organisations about the need to maintain their IT security.

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"The truth is, if you're going to cut infrastructure budgets and if you're not going to allow the NHS to invest in upgrading its IT, then you are going to leave hospitals wide open to this sort of attack", he added.

The government is not legally bound to notify at-risk companies.

But the big second-wave outbreak that many feared they would see when users returned to their offices Monday morning and switched their computers back on failed to materialize.

"The latest count is over 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries".

"While the spread of the Ransomware appears to have temporarily slowed, it is still critical that businesses and individuals patch the operating systems on their computers", the centre said in a statement on its website yesterday.

In one instance, the cyber attack prevented people from receiving hospital care. It essentially relies on victims clicking on or downloading the attachment, which causes the program to run and infect your computer with ransomware.

In China, "hundreds of thousands" of computers were affected, including petrol stations, cash machines and universities, according to Qihoo 360, one of the country's largest providers of antivirus software. Additionally, experts warn that copycats could also try another attack.

The assault, which began Friday and was being described as the biggest-ever cyber ransom attack, struck state agencies and major companies around the world - from Russian banks and British hospitals to FedEx and European auto factories.

"During 2015, law enforcement saw an increase in these types of cyber attacks, particularly against organizations because the payoffs are higher", Federal Bureau of Investigation officials wrote.

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