Global hack hits Australia as threat ‘escalates’

Sunday

The government has confirmed one Australian business has been hit by ransomware in a cyber attack.

The website of the NHS: East and North Hertfordshire notifies users of a problem in its network. Picture: AFP/Daniel Leal-Olivas

A MASSIVE cyber attack which has hit 200,000 people in at least 150 countries has claimed its first Australian victim and authorities warn more is yet to come.

The Federal Government confirmed a private business was hit by Friday’s attack and that it was investigating at least two other separate reports.

Australians were urged to update their antivirus software in the wake of the cyber attack that has affected hospitals, organisations and companies across the globe.

The news comes as authorities overseas warn the global malware attack could escalate even further today as the working week begins.

The unprecedented ransomware attack wormed its way into thousands of computer systems in an apparent extortion plot on Friday, shutting users out unless they coughed up a payment.

International police force Europol warned of even more disruption as workers switch on their computers today.

It warned the threat was escalating and the said the number of “ransomware” victims was likely to grow across the private and public sectors, The Guardian reported.

Friday’s cyber attack has had global ramifications. Photo: istock

Friday’s cyber attack has had global ramifications. Photo: istockSource:istock

In the UK, the National Health Service has been forced to cancel operations today within its hospitals after computers used to share patients’ test results and scans with doctors remain frozen.

Meanwhile as the global fallout grows Australian Cyber Security Minister Dan Tehan said Commonwealth organisations had not been affected by the attack.

“There has been one incident of the ransomware hitting a business here in Australia and there could be two other incidents where it has occurred, although we are trying to confirm that,” Mr Tehan told Sky News last night.

“We’re not talking about a government organisation or a hospital or anything like that. We’re obviously working with that business, the Australian Cyber Security Centre is engaging with them.”

Cyber Security Minister Dan Tehan said the government has received reports of the private sector being impacted. Picture: Zak Simmonds

Cyber Security Minister Dan Tehan said the government has received reports of the private sector being impacted. Picture: Zak SimmondsSource:News Corp Australia

Earlier yesterday, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said authorities were working to confirm if the reports were linked to the global attack.

“The difficulty is, of course, there are literally hundreds of instances of ransomware in Australia each week, so we’re currently seeking to confirm whether these are examples of the particular ransomware that has caused so much havoc for example in the United Kingdom,” she told reporters in Cairns.

Mr Tehan said Australian business boardrooms needed to be conscious of the impacts of ransomware.

“And we’ve got to make sure at a departmental level, government level, departmental heads … that they’re taking the necessary steps,” he told Sky News.

“They’re aware of this. They became aware of it when we had the incident with the Census, so there are no excuses. They get well resourced for their information technology.”

In Perth, Senator Scott Ludlam warned Australians to keep their computers up to date against such threats and hit out against cyberweapon creation by the US.

“We’ve seen what happens when the US NSA (National Security Agency) … develops hacking tools, effectively weapons for breaking in to ordinary people’s computers then loses control of one of those exploits that has then been effectively weaponised by a criminal organisation that is now seeking to ransom people,” he told reporters.

“I think we need to keep a much closer eye on what government agencies are doing with these cyber weapons because they could’ve tipped off the government, they could have tipped off users of these operating systems but they didn’t, they kept those exploits to themselves.”

The ransomware attack struck British National Health Service organisations, along with computer networks of companies and municipalities in dozens of other countries.

UK PM Theresa May says a massive cyber hit on the UK’s health system is part of wider international attack.

Global companies were continuing to suffer the effects of the attack. Spanish telco giant Telefonica and US delivery service FedEx were among the businesses affected.

US President Donald Trump has also ordered his homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, to hold an emergency meeting to assess the threat posed by the global computer ransomware attack. The meeting was ordered on Friday as the global cyber breach unfolded.

Senior security staff held another meeting in the White House Situation Room on Saturday, and the FBI and National Security Agency were trying to identify the perpetrators of the massive cyber attack, said the official, who spoke on condition on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

US President Donald Trump has ordered his homeland security adviser to hold an emergency meeting to assess the threat posed by the global computer ransomware attack. Picture: AFP/Olivier Douliery

US President Donald Trump has ordered his homeland security adviser to hold an emergency meeting to assess the threat posed by the global computer ransomware attack. Picture: AFP/Olivier DoulierySource:AFP

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