#NSA software behind global wave of cyber attacks

Nice going NSA. Nice going. Next time someone in the government asks you for help, please say no.

A cyber weapon believed to have escaped the control of the United States’ top-secret National Security Agency appears to be behind a massive wave of cyber ransom attacks Friday in scores of countries around the globe that researchers said was the largest computer hack ever.

Computers seized in the attack flashed a message on a black screen with red letters: “Oops, your important files are encrypted.” Users were then unable to access their files and told to pay a ransom to regain access to their machines.

A Czech security research firm, Avast Software, said it had detected more than 57,000 computers frozen by the attack. The Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab said 74 countries had been hit, with Russia, Ukraine, India and Taiwan suffering the biggest impact. The global criminal attacks crippled 16 hospitals and clinics in Britain and affected telecommunications in Spain and Portugal.

“I believe this is the largest, in the effect it is having,” said Lior Div, chief executive of Cybereason, a Boston-based cybersecurity firm.

Div joined a chorus of cybersecurity experts that traced the global ransomware shakedown to a powerful cyber weapon developed by an elite offensive unit of the NSA that was leaked into the open in mid-April.

“There is no question about it,” Div said.

The NSA did not respond to a request for comment.

Read the whole story from the McClatchy Washington Bureau


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