World braces for more cyberattacks as work week begins

Computers across the world were locked up and users' files held for ransom when dozens of countries were hit in a cyber-extortion attack that targeted hospitals, companies and government agencies.

Europol executive director Rob Wainwright said the situation could worsen on Monday when workers return to their offices after the weekend and log on.

The latest virus attack last week exploits a flaw in a version of Microsoft Windows first identified by USA intelligence.

Although a temporary fix earlier slowed the infection rate, the attackers had now released a new version of the ransomware, he said.

"NCSC and NCA are working with Europol and other global partners to make sure we all collect the right evidence, which we need to do to make sure we have the right material to find out who has done this and we go after them".

Microsoft called in February for a "Digital Geneva Convention" laying down the rules for the protection of users from state cyber attacks, including a requirement for governments to report vulnerabilities to vendors, rather than stockpile, sell, or exploit them.

The political fallout from the attack escalated over the weekend as both Labour and the Lib Dems blamed the crisis in the health service on the government's failure to upgrade hospital computers.

Here's a look at how malware and ransomware work and what people can do if they fall victim to attacks.

Exploits used in the attack were drawn from exploits stolen from the NSA.

People are anxious a second wave of cyberattacks could strike around the world on Monday as employees return to their desks and log onto their computers.

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The "Wannacry" virus locks users out of their computers and demands hundreds of dollars from victims hoping to regain control of their documents and data.

The most public damage was on the country's largest movie chain.

"The fact that so many computers remained vulnerable two months after the release of a patch illustrates this aspect", Smith wrote Sunday.

Experts say another attack could be imminent and have warned people to ensure their security is up to date.

"Intelligence agencies will always be developing zero-days, but unlike traditional weapons, these tools can be repurposed quickly from devastating criminal attacks", said Bambenek in an email statement.

"The affected company doesn't fall under critical infrastructure, it's not a medical or health service and it is not a big company", he said.

The spread of the current attack was stopped by an anonymous United Kingdom cybersecurity researcher, who discovered that by registering an unusual domain name that had been written into the ransomware he could get the virus to shut itself down.

The Japan Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center, a nonprofit providing support for computer attacks, said 2,000 computers at 600 locations in Japan were reported affected so far.

In Japan, both Nissan and Hitachi reported some units had been affected, while in China energy giant PetroChina said that at some petrol stations customers had been unable to use its payment system.

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