EUROPOL admits stunned by scale of cyberattack

The frequency and scale of attacks also gives us a measure of how effectively companies and countries are prepared for cybersecurity attacks of any kind.

Britain's state-run National Health Service was affected by the attack.

"Very few banks if any have been affected because they've learned from painful experience of being the number one target for cybercrime", he said on ITV's Peston on Sunday program.

Wainwright described the cyberattack as an "escalating threat".

Wainwright said he was anxious that the ransomware attack might spread further once people return to work on Monday and log on to their computers.

Two security firms - Kaspersky Lab and Avast - said they identified the malicious software in more than 70 countries. It wasn't immediately clear to what degree nations across Asia were being affected by the attack Monday. But it appears to be "low-level" stuff, Eisen said Saturday, given the amount of ransom demanded - $300 at first, rising to $600 before it destroys files hours later.

The Europol chief said his agency was working with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to find those responsible, and that more than one person was likely to be involved.

"It only guarantees that the malicious actors receive the victim's money, and in some cases, their banking information".

Rob Wainwright, Europol's director, said that the ransomware attack is unique as it is combined with a "worm functionality" allowing the infection to spread automatically.

Security experts said his move bought precious time for organizations seeking to block the attacks.

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It combined a known and highly risky security hole in Microsoft Windows, tardy users who didn't apply Microsoft's March software fix, and a software design that allowed the malware to spread quickly once inside university, business and government networks.

The spread of the virus slowed over the weekend but the respite might only be brief, experts have warned.

One of the first "attacks" on the internet came in 1988, when a graduate student named Robert Morris Jr released a self-replicating and self-propagating program known as a "worm" onto the then-nascent internet.

Among those affected by the virus was Nissan, but the vehicle manufacturer said there had been no major impact.

The companies and government agencies targeted were diverse.

Cyber Security Minister Dan Tehan said on Monday that just three businesses had been hit by the bug, despite worries of widespread infection. But he said the country was safe from the major impacts of the attack, which was believed to be the same thing as the one that reached thousands of computer systems in the United Kingdom in an extortion plot.

French carmaker Renault was forced to stop production at sites in France, Slovenia and Romania, while FedEx said it was "implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible". In this May 12, 2017, photo, a display panel with an error can be seen at the main railway station in Chemnitz, Germany.

In Britain, the attack disrupted care at National Health Service facilities, forcing ambulances to divert and hospitals to postpone operations. Universities in Greece and Italy also were hit.

Alastair MacGibbon, special adviser to the prime minister on cyber security, said the country's critical infrastructure had not been affected by the incident. The danger will be discussed at the G7 leaders' summit next month.

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