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Reports of computer infection in NZ

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/05/2017

Ransomware attacks like those that crippled computer systems across the globe have been reported in New Zealand but the government's cyber response team says these are still to be confirmed.

A spokeswoman for the response team, Cert NZ, on Monday said, "We have received a small number of unconfirmed reports of WannaCry [ransomware] in New Zealand and are working through these on a case-by-case basis."

There have been fears the ransomware would be uncovered here as people returned to their computers on Monday morning.

Cert and computer experts worldwide urged organisations and companies on Friday to update their operating systems immediately after the emergence of WannaCry.

It paralysed Britain's hospital network, German's national railway, telecommunications groups in Spain, Portugal and Argentina, and thousands of other companies and government agencies in more than 100 countries.

Encrypted files, some with the extension .wcry, block access to a computer or its files and demand money to unlock it .Once a computer is infected with WannaCry, the programme can infect other computers on the same network.

It is being called the biggest online extortion in history, with reports of up to $NZ1000 in bitcoin payments being demanded or else files would be destroyed.

Cert has said attacks would likely come in the form of phishing emails with malicious attachments or links in them. The software targets machines running un-updated versions of Windows XP through to Windows 2008.

This ransomware exploits a Windows vulnerability known as EternalBlue, which was released by the Shadow Brokers hacking group more than a month ago. Microsoft released a patch for the vulnerability in March.

Cert urged people to avoid suspicious emails, keep computers up to date and ensure the Microsoft patch is installed.

"If you do get attacked, disconnect from any network you are on to prevent it attacking someone else," NZ Tech chief executive Graeme Muller said.

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