Ransomware targeted key health care systems worldwide

(CNN) — A massive ransomware virus that crippled public and private computers in the United States and around the world over the weekend has been contained, with only minor disruption to some services in…

Ransomware targeted key health care systems worldwide

(CNN) — A massive ransomware virus that crippled public and private computers in the United States and around the world over the weekend has been contained, with only minor disruption to some services in Quebec, government officials said Sunday.

The computer virus began wreaking havoc in the US early Friday, overwhelming the government’s technology system and the servers of health care systems.

The virus, “WannaCry,” exploited a vulnerability in Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system, the FBI said. The agency identified a software flaw in the operating system and used it to launch a wave of attacks Friday around the world, including attacks on hospitals and shops in Britain, Russia, Ukraine and India.

Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette told reporters at a news conference Sunday that:

Partially restored services have been restored on the province’s computers.

No workers experienced any data loss as a result of the malware.

Ten systems were affected by the cyber attack, affecting only a small percentage of Quebec’s 500,000 computers.

Businesses, organizations and organizations in the state of Maine also were targeted by the attack.

Federal officials in Maine said they had no reports of critical infrastructure or public safety systems being impacted.

However, private business and individuals in Maine experienced issues with information technology systems, such as desktop PCs, said Jonathan Thomas, an executive assistant with the Office of Management and Budget in Maine.

Thomas said the state’s Incident Response Team had been working with federal agencies and private companies to address the issue and had said as of late Friday they had brought the situation under control.

Maine officials said they had not yet determined the origin of the virus.

A blog post said the attack targeted a PC client (Web browser) called Pidgin, a free alternative to the official Windows messenger.

It did not restrict access to the system, but kicked users to a server that redirected them to a site where they could scan their machines for unauthorized programs.

On Sunday, Microsoft released patches for Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP that are intended to address security vulnerabilities.

Security researchers estimated that, globally, up to 200,000 computers were affected, with about 8,000 in the United States.

Microsoft issued a statement Saturday saying the company had fixed the vulnerability, as had other major software providers, including Google and Facebook.

The company’s CEO, Satya Nadella, called the attack an “act of criminal sabotage.”

Saturday night, the UK’s National Health Service said three hospitals and several GP practices had been hit by the virus.

The Royal Free Hospital, in London, tweeted Saturday that there had been “some issues” with their IT system and that there was no patient data affected.

Three hospitals in north-west England also took to Twitter to say they had been affected, and that “the vast majority of systems are back online.”

British media reported the cyber attacks were linked to extortion attempts.

US health care centers targeted

In California, Kaiser Permanente said Saturday that about 15% of its computer network had been affected by the attack, but that data was not at risk, CNN affiliate KGO reported.

It was not immediately clear what sites and systems were affected in California.

In Ohio, Marion General Hospital officials said they had been targeted but were able to limit the impact of the malware, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

The Austin American-Statesman reported that health care workers at the Texas state capitol and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio had been targeted in a ransomware attack.

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