Organizations around the world were digging out this weekend from what experts are calling one of the biggest cyberattacks ever.
Hospitals, major companies and government offices were hit by a virus that seeks to seize control of computers until the victims pay a ransom.
Experts said that even as the spread of the attacks apparently has been stymied, its full ramifications are not yet known because the virus may be lurking still on computers around the world.
Cybersecurity firm Avast said it had identified more than 75,000 ransomware attacks in 99 countries on Friday, making it one of the broadest and most damaging cyberattacks in history.
Avast said the majority of the attacks targeted Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan. But U.K. hospitals, Chinese universities and global firms like Fedex (FDX) also reported they had come under assault.
Security experts said the spread of the ransomware had been inadvertently stopped late Friday. The ransomware was designed to repeatedly contact an unregistered domain in its code. A 22-year-old security researcher in the U.K, who goes by MalwareTech, registered that domain to analyze the attack, but it turned out the ransomware needed it to remain unregistered to keep spreading. “Thus by registering it we inadvertently stopped any subsequent infections,” he told CNNTech.
However, a hacker could change the code to remove the domain and try the ransomware attack again.
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