UK, Spain and others hit by large-scale cyber attack on Windows machines, affecting health services, utilities and more

Jack Wilkinson

Windows 10 Build 2017

Countries around the world are facing a large-scale cyber attack after ransomware has infected large organisations en masse. Of the affected organisations, health services, utiliy companies, universities and more have been affected, including the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) and Spanish utility companies and mobile providers, such as Telefonica (via BBC News).

The ransomware is spreading through Microsoft Windows-based machines, from Windows Server 2008 all the way to Windows 10, making use of a security hole that Microsoft patched back in March, but many systems have not been updated yet.

As part of the attack, the ransomware is demanding $300 (£230) in Bitcoin to unlock the encrypted files. According to reports, the Bitcoin wallets provided in the program are already beginning to receive payments from people wanting to regain access to their computers.

In the United Kingdom, the NHS has declared a major incident and many health services are affected, with heart surgeries and non-emergency treatments being cancelled or delayed.

Some of the attacks appear to be using vulnerabilties that the United States’ NSA had been using to spy on people, that were leaked recently. In all, more than 74 countries have reported attacks, with thousands of reports pouring in.