Thousands hacked and data held at ransom in world's largest cyber-attack

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Associated Press

Digital technicians have come together to help fight one of the world's largest cyber-attacks that's demanding ransom.

NZ cyber security officials say they'll be staying vigilant with the working week starting tomorrow.
Source: 1 NEWS

Thousands of people around the globe have been hacked and it put Britain's medical centres and hospitals in lock-down when they were unable to access their software and operating systems.

Online maps appear to show computers in New Zealand have been affected by the malware but those infections are unconfirmed.

Neither the Government's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) or the National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) have received any reports that Kiwis were targeted in the ransomware attack.

However, CERT NZ has told 1 NEWS it is an evolving situation and the latest information on the hacks can be found at CERT NZ.

Microsoft is offering free security fixes for those using the older windows systems. It's believed those consumers are at a higher risk than those using newer, updated versions.

Following the forced closure of medical facilities in Britain, security officials are urging organizations to use the free update or find another provider who can offer the same service. They also want people to regularly run anti-virus software and back up data on all devices.

The attackers are still yet to be identified however two security firms, Kaspersky Lab and Avast, say they've identified the damaging software in more than 70 countries. 

Authorities say they're taking extra steps to strengthen our cyber security.
Source: 1 NEWS

"This is obviously the worst ransomware outbreak we've seen in, I think, forever," said Lawrence Abrams, a New York based malware expert from BleepingComputer.com.

Cyber security experts are warning the worst could be yet to come.

The attack held hospitals and other entities hostage by freezing computers, encrypting data and demanding money through online bitcoin payments. The ransom starts at $300, rising to $600 before it completely wipes files.

This is believed to be the biggest online extortion attack ever recorded. The European Union's police agency said the attack was at "an unprecedented level and will require a complex international investigation to identify the culprits."

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