MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The world is bracing for a potential new wave of cyberattacks after Friday’s unprecedented attack disabled computer networks in at least 150 countries. The United Kingdom was one of the hardest hit.
The “ransomware” cyberattack that ravaged Europe rolled into Asia as workers booted up their computers Monday morning.
In Japan, at least 2,000 machines in 600 locations were reportedly hit.
The frozen screen warnings are much the same that started in Britain and spread across the globe on Friday. Employees found their files were encrypted and were no longer readable.
Hackers are demanding $300 in ransom to decode them or they’d be destroyed.
Security analysts say it’s the largest cyber-crime attack the world has ever seen.
“I think this is organized crime. I think this is cybercrime. The fact that they’re demanding ransom in order to free up the data that they are encrypting, that makes it the largest cybercrime attack we have ever seen before,” said National Security Contributor Michael Morell.
The malware program is called “WannaCry”, and it was first uncovered in documents stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency, exposing a vulnerability to Microsoft operating systems.
It crippled Britain’s Health Service. Patients expecting scheduled operations were turned away.
The global attack could have been far worse if not for a pair of cyber security researchers, including Darien Huss, from Michigan, who stumbled on a kill switch hidden in the hackers malware.
“Even though the kill switch has been activated, there were at the very least thousands and possibly even 100-thousands of infections that occurred before the kill switch was activated,” said Huss.
Cybersecurity experts warn what’s happened so far is nothing compared to what might be coming. That might be unstoppable.
Microsoft President Brad Smith called it a wakeup call in a scathing statement over the weekend, saying an equivalent scenario would be the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk Missiles stolen.
President Donald Trump ordered emergency meetings Friday and Saturday to address the global cyber attacks.