Eight Aussie companies hit in global cyber attack

The effects were felt across the globe, with Britain's National Health Service, Russia's Interior Ministry and companies including Spain's Telefonica, FedEx Corp.in the USA and French carmaker Renault all reporting disruptions.

The cyberattack that took computer files hostage around the world appeared to slow on Monday as authorities worked to catch the extortionists behind it - a hard task that involves searching for digital clues and following the money.

In a statement it said: "East Kent Hospitals unaffected by yesterday's cyber attack".

Europol's Wainwright said few banks in Europe had been affected, having learned through the "painful experience of being the number one target of cyber crime" the value of having the latest cyber security in place.

Much of the media attention had focused on the impact of the cyberattack on larger hospitals, said Mr Biggs. The hack attack went global quickly by exploiting the hacking tools engineered by the U.S. spy agency, NSA.

In Japan, both Nissan and Hitachi reported some units had been affected, while in China energy giant PetroChina said that at some petrol stations customers had been unable to use its payment system.

Patients across Kent's hospitals were able to use services as normal over the weekend, after all of the trusts behind them avoided a ransomware attack on the NHS.

Following on from the news that the NHS and organisations in 150 countries around the world have been affected by a cyber attack, there have been fresh fears that the ransomware virus could spread even further when people return to work on Monday.

The so-called WannaCry ransomware locks access to user files and in an onscreen message demands payment of $300 in the virtual currency Bitcoin in order to decrypt the files.

In the USA, where the effects haven't appeared to be widespread, investigators believe additional companies have been attacked but have not yet come forward to report it, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.

The global attack could have been far worse if not for a pair of cybersecurity researchers, including Darien Huss, from MI, who stumbled on a kill switch hidden in the domain name the hackers were using.

Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer, said in a blog post on Sunday that the culprits had used a code developed by the US National Security Agency.

Researchers who helped prevent the spread of the malware and cybersecurity firms worked around the clock over the weekend to monitor the situation and install the software patch. "Because this would be nowhere near the global spread and depth of attack if people had run the updates that Microsoft had provided in March", The Australian has quoted her as saying.

Beyond that, the NHS must try to protect its systems from future attacks.

The US Department of Homeland Security suggests running a penetration test at least once a year to test network security.

"Once a machine is infected it will scan the entire internal network and infect other vulnerable machines".

Qihoo has previously said the attack had infected close to 30,000 organisations by Saturday evening. It affected many others too.

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