Microsoft points finger at government agencies over randomware cyber-attacks

Worldwide investigators hunted Saturday for those behind an unprecedented cyber-attack that affected systems in dozens of countries, including at banks, hospitals and government agencies, as security experts sought to contain the fallout.

Hospitals and doctors" surgeries across Britain were forced to divert ambulances, turn away patients and cancel appointments on Friday after a "ransomware' cyber attack crippled some computer systems in the state-run health service. Speaking to the BBC, he said the defense and security systems are "pretty well protected" but "beyond that, I think pretty much every government department is at risk here". It is possible they will try to use other Equation/NSA exploits leaked by the Shadow Brokers or will be quicker to adopt exploits for future flaws that enable similar mass-scale attacks inside LANs.

NHS England says there is a "complex emerging picture" of the attack's impacts, after one in five trusts was hit. He also doubts they'll cash out any bitcoins that have been paid, as this would provide an obvious means of detection.

"At the moment, we face an escalating threat".

The virus exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows software, first identified by the US National Security Agency. While a United Kingdom security researcher managed to stop the spread of the virus, hackers have issued new versions that cybersecurity organizations are trying to counter and stamp out.

"The reason why so many patients have been unaffected today is because they were ready for this, they had staff who came in over the weekend to make sure patients were unaffected", she said.

French police said there were "more than 75,000 victims" around the globe, but cautioned that the number could increase "significantly".

WannaCry is a form of "ransomware" that locks up the files on your computer and encrypts them in a way that you can not access them anymore.

The virus hit computers running older versions of Microsoft software that had not been recently updated.

Over the weekend, there was no shortage of security experts suggesting the worst was to be expected on Monday.

The latest malware, called WannaCrypt or WannaCry, is spread by taking advantage of a Windows vulnerability that Microsoft released a security patch for in March.

"Expect to hear a lot more when users are back in their offices and might fall for phishing e-mails" or other as yet unconfirmed ways the worm may propagate, said Christian Karam, a Singapore-based security researcher. "It has been a very strong response", she said.

In China, "hundreds of thousands" of computers were affected, including petrol stations, cash machines and universities, according to Qihoo 360, one of China's largest providers of antivirus software. "Work is ongoing to ensure that this remains the case and we are continuing to monitor the situation closely"'.

The countries, including India, were hit by what is believed to be the biggest-ever recorded cyberattack on Friday with investigators looking for those behind the hack that affected systems at banks, hospitals and government agencies globally, media reports said. No major Indian corporations reported disruptions to operations.

"Our pro-active routine maintenance and planned security and anti-virus update programme, coupled with the county-wide Internet Security Filter has protected us".

Tom Bossert, a homeland security adviser to President Donald Trump, said "criminals" were responsible, not the US government.