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Global Cyber Attack Raises Concerns For Financial Industry

An unprecedented cyberattack has hit computers worldwide and among the worst-hit has been UK’s NHS hospital network. The swift worldwide spread of the massive ransomware attack has led to several government agencies and companies racing to halt the cyber attack which has potential to affect banks, factories, government departments and telecom systems.

The ‘WannaCry’ malware , shuts down a computer and encrypts the files which can be unlocked only after a ransom is paid via bitcoins. If the payment is not made as specified, the files are destroyed. The ransom demanded initially was $300 but later reached $600. The malware utilizes a Microsoft Windows vulnerability identified by the U.S. National Security Agency.

Microsoft changed its policy of not supporting older version of its operating software Windows and released security patches designed to stop the attack a few months ago when the exploit was first reported stolen by a hacker group. There is still no information on those responsible for the attack.

BBC News

So far according to reports, there are around 200,000 computers used across 150 countries that have been affected. Britain’s hospitals delayed treatment to thousands of patient due to the attack. Train systems were affected in Germany and Russia while in several other countries it was the telecom companies that suffered.

Cybersecurity software firms Kaspersky Lab and Avast have confirmed that Russia has been hit the hardest. According to Britain's home secretary Amber Rudd around one in five of 248 National Health Service groups are hit. She added that all of them except six had resumed normal operations. U.K.'s National Cyber Security Center is said to be working round-the-clock to restore services.

Europol, the European Union crime agency has said that the threat was likely to increase as the week progressed and more users started switching on their computers and accessing the internet. Global financial firms including banks and forex market brokers are also concerned that their business could be impacted.

Ori Eisen, founder of Trusona a cybersecurity firm in Arizona, has warned that the next wave of the attack might have already been launched and computer users need to be vigilant. Despite its scale, the attack according to Eisen was a simple affair.

In a statement, Eisen said,

This is child's play, what happened. This is not the serious stuff yet. What if the same thing happened to 10 nuclear power plants, and they would shut down all the electricity to the grid? Today, it happened to 10,000 computers. There's no barrier to do it tomorrow to 100 million computers.

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