World's biggest cyberattack hits 150 countries, the threat is 'escalating'

French carmaker Renault said this morning it was among those hit by the global ransomware cyber attack that has infected tens of thousands of computers in almost 100 countries.

Worldwide investigation needed to identify culprits of biggest-of-its-kind cyber-extortion attack, Europol says.

The U.K. and Russian Federation are among the worst-hit countries from Friday's cyberattack that continues to escalate throughout the world, according to EU Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) director on Sunday.

Investigators are working to track down those responsible for the ransomware used on Friday, known as Wanna Decryptor or WannaCry.

Europol teams are seeking to "mitigate the threat and assist victims", it also said.

In England, 48 National Health Service (NHS) trusts reported problems at hospitals, GP surgeries or pharmacies, and 13 NHS organisations in Scotland were also affected. Omer Fatih Sayan said the country's cyber security center is continuing operations against the malicious software. "They're processing a lot of sensitive data, very often on legacy systems", he told host Robert Peston.

In Germany, the federal railway operator said electronic boards had been disrupted; people tweeted photos of a ticket machine.

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".

They pledged to work more closely on spotting potential vulnerabilities and assessing security measures.

Images appear on victims' screens demanding payment of $300 (275 euros) in the virtual currency Bitcoin, saying: "Ooops, your files have been encrypted!"

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The infections seem to be deployed via a worm - a program that spreads by itself between computers.

By contrast, once WannaCry is inside an organisation it will hunt down vulnerable machines and infect them too.

Lord Paddick, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: "We need to get to the bottom of why the Government thought cyber attacks were not a risk, when a combination of warnings and plain common sense should have told ministers that there is a growing and unsafe threat to our cyber security".

A hacking group called Shadow Brokers released the malware in April, claiming to have discovered the flaw from the NSA, Kaspersky said.

A patch for the vulnerability was released by Microsoft in March, which would have automatically protected those computers with Windows Update enabled.

Defence minister Michael Fallon told the BBC the government under Prime Minister Theresa May was spending around 50 million pounds on improving the computer systems in the NHS after warning the service that it needed to reduce its exposure to "the weakest system, the Windows XP".

A security researcher warned there might be another attack imminently.

But in a BBC interview, he warned that it was only a temporary fix. "There's always more we can all do to make sure we're secure against viruses, but I think there have already been good preparations in place by the NHS to make sure they were ready for this sort of attack".

He began analyzing a sample of the malicious software and noticed its code included a hidden web address that wasn't registered.

So, every time the malware tried to contact the mysterious website, it failed - and then set about doing its damage. "At this stage, we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed".

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