London (CNN)British Prime Minister Theresa May says a cyberattack initially believed to be targeting only hospitals in the UK has now gone beyond, involving potentially dozens of countries.
“We are aware that a number of NHS (National Health Service) organizations have reported they have suffered from a ransomware attack,” May said, while speaking on the campaign trail in the UK. “This is not targeted at the NHS. It is an international attack. A number of countries and organizations have been affected.”
A report from a security firm indicates more than 45,000 malicious computer attacks in 74 countries in the past 10 hours. CNN has not independently confirmed that number.
The problem appeared to begin Friday morning when hospitals in the UK were crippled by a large-scale cyberattack, which forced operations to be canceled and ambulances to be diverted.
Health workers reported being locked out of their systems and seeing messages demanding ransom payments to regain access. NHS England described the incident as a “ransomware” attack.
At least 16 organizations connected to the National Health Service in England and an unknown number in Scotland reported being affected. “The investigation is at an early stage but we believe the malware variant is Wanna Decryptor,” officials at NHS Digital said in a statement.
“At this stage, we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed. We will continue to work with affected (organizations) to confirm this.”
Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison said officials were convening an emergency meeting to deal with the problem.
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