By Tony Nwankwo, with agency reports
Hackers using malware “stolen from the NSA” crippled 45 National Health Service, NHS, trusts in Britain and caused disruption across at least 45,000 computer networks in 99 countries in an unprecedented global attack at the weekend.
The tools used to carry out the hack – dubbed a superweapon – are thought to be a surveillance tool developed by the US’s National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on terrorists and enemy states.
The “exploit”, called EternalBlue, was stolen and dumped online by the sinister Shadow Brokers last month.
The ransomware hit Telefonica – the owner of O2 – and other huge organisations in Spain.
Nissan’s Sunderland plant was hit by the attack, while Renault confirmed its French sites had been forced to cease production.
Italy, Portugal, Russia, Vietnam, Kazakhstan and Taiwan were among the countries hit.
Intelligence services in Romania said they intercepted an attempted cyber attack on a government institution likely to have come from the cybercriminal group known as Fancy Bear.
And Russia’s Interior Ministry also came under attack, as well as courier firm, FedEx.
China’s Xinhua news agency said some of its schools and universities had been hit.
Even Germany’s main train operator Deutsche Bahn appeared to have been attacked as images of a train timetable with the hacker’s warning message appeared on social media.
“THIS is only the beginning”, an expert has warned, as he likened infected computers to “zombies” who will keep spreading the ransomware virus which nearly brought the NHS in Britain to its knees.
Alleged hacker, Lauri Love, said he expected the virus to spread across the globe.
However, despite Love’s warning, one British blogger appeared to stop the virus in its tracks – by accidentally discovering a way to halt it from spreading.
The anonymous “hero” found that by registering a simple website name for less than a tenner, he caused the malware to “exit” every time it infected a new machine.