So far, 200,000 computers across 150 countries are known to have been infected in the first wave of the WannaCry cyber attack, Europol said on Sunday.
Patients of the state-funded country-wide service are facing days of chaos as appointments and surgeries were cancelled after almost 45 NHS organisations from London to Scotland were hit.
Ransomware type attacks are not new to Zimbabwe, and in fact we’ll explain in another article how this type of cyber-attack has been on the increase locally.
Once inside a network the virus can then spread to other connected computers. We also have a number of contingency arrangements in place to help keep systems safe.
The Europol chief said his agency was working with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to find those responsible, and that more than one person was likely to be involved.
“It appears that WannaCry is being updated nearly daily so despite the battle to stop it, nothing will provide 100 percent protection”.
Experts say another attack could be imminent and have warned people to ensure their security is up to date.
The NHS says it employs more than 1.5 million people, making it one of the world’s biggest employers alongside the US Department of Defence, Walmart and the Chinese army.
MalwareTech, the United Kingdom security researcher that helped limit the ransomware attack, told the BBC on Sundaythat new attacks may be imminent.
Experts urged organizations and companies to immediately update older Microsoft operating systems, such as Windows XP, with a patch released by Microsoft Corp.to limit vulnerability to a more powerful version of the malware – or to future versions that can’t be stopped.
According to Kaspersky Lab experts, they are now trying to determine if it is possible to decrypt encrypted data during the attack to develop a decryption tool as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, health authorities are racing to upgrade security software amid fears hackers could exploit the same vulnerability with a new virus.
MalwareTech, who wants to remain anonymous, was hailed as an “accidental hero” after registering a domain name to track the spread of the virus, which actually ended up halting it.
“The reason why so many patients have been unaffected today is because they were ready for this”, she said.
“Infrastructure budgets have been raided, have been cut back, which has meant hospital trusts have not been able to spend the money on upgrading their IT systems”, he said.
The latest virus attack last week exploits a flaw in a version of Microsoft Windows first identified by United States intelligence.
However, security minister Ben Wallace, a Parliamentary candidate in Preston and Wyre, blamed changes under the last Labour government to stop contracting across the NHS with Microsoft, instead leaving IT up to individual trusts.
“At the moment we are in the face of an escalating threat, the numbers are going up”.