More than a dozen hospitals and companies, including FedEx, were hit. Monitors at Xobee Networks track the number of malicious attacks around the world. As of Friday evening, there were so many, the computer monitor froze.
“I think it would be safe to assume that World War III-style attacks were taking place throughout the web,” Brandon Griggs with the company said.
Griggs is the director of technical support and says this wave of cyber attacks is one of the largest, most organized he’s seen. The ransomware infects machines, locks them by encrypting data, and then extorts money to let users back in.
“What is typically the case, they will hold it ransom for a certain number of days, demand money for it, and if they don’t get it they delete your files,” he said.
At least 16 U.K. hospitals were hit and more than 75,000 computers were affected worldwide. Xobee consulting hasn’t didn’t have any customers report problems Friday but says previous waves pushed California businesses to the verge of bankruptcy.
“Many companies have gone out of business,” Griggs warned. “We’ve seen police departments locked up, can’t process records that need to be done, doctors-patient information at hospitals.”
In most cases, the software infects computers through links or attachments in phishing emails. Experts say don’t click on those links, ensure security updates are installed and regularly back up your data.
“Businesses absolutely have to have offsite backups,” Griggs said. “It’s a daily occurrence that people called us and said, ‘We need backups, our data was infected.’”
The investigation into the malware is just starting, but experts say cyber attacks like this one will only grow worse and more sophisticated with time.