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Few options in ransomware attack

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/05/2017

New Zealanders who fall victim to a global ransomware attack either have to pay the ransom or throw away their computers, NZ Tech has warned.

Computer systems at private companies and public organisations - including hospitals - were attacked globally on Friday in an apparent extortion plot.

More than 75,000 computers have reportedly been affected in 99 countries around the world, hitting Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan the hardest according to cybersecurity firm Avast.

But neither the NCSC or National Computer Emergency Response Team have received any reports that Kiwis were targeted in the ransomware attack.

The malware holds data ransom while hackers demand payment to restore access.

"While the ransom is relatively small at around $NZ430 per computer, the criminals who are collecting the ransom will be making millions having successfully taken down large organisations such as the UK's National Health Service, Telefonica and FedEx as well as thousands of smaller businesses," NZ Tech chief executive Graeme Muller says.

Ransomware attacks are estimated to be worth more than $NZ400 billion a year, he said.

The government's National Cyber Security Centre and Computer Emergency Response Team are monitoring situation, which is believed to have use a phishing email with a malicious attachment or link to penetrate the Windows operating system.

The malware is known as WannaCry, Wana DecryptOr, WannaCryptor or WCRY, and uses the file extension .wcry.

Mr Muller urged people to avoid suspicious emails, keep computers up to date and ensure the Microsoft patch released in March is installed.

"If you do get attacked disconnect from any network you are on to prevent it attacking someone else," Mr Muller said.

New Zealanders are urged to report attacks to NCSC and CERT.

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