The massive cyber attack rolling across the globe tonight targeting governments, hospitals, and major companies – security experts racing to fight back.
Hackers striking around 100 countries, including here in the United States, locking up tens of thousands of computers demanding ransom to free them up.
Tonight, the anonymous computer whiz – who may have stumbled on a way to disable the attack – and the international hunt to catch the culprits before they strike again.
The tally of victims tonight includes FedEx in the United States, railroads in Germany and Russia, factories and phone companies across Europe, and hospitals in Great Britain, where surgeries were cancelled, ambulances turned away.
British patient or doctor: I think it’s a heinous crime this hacking because they’re putting people’s lives at risk.”
The unprecedented international cyber-attack was announced when tens of thousands of targets simultaneously received this ominous on-line message that their computers were frozen.
Oops, your important files are encrypted.
Followed by this demand to pay ransom of $300 or more, to keep their files from being erased permanently.
The reason this is hitting so many computers at once is that they discovered a vulnerability in the most popular operating system in the world, in Microsoft windows. And they’re taking advantage of it. It’s one that Microsoft delivered a solution for, but a lot of people haven’t used it.
As the attack spread to some 100 countries in five continents, the damage was contained today, for the moment, when a computer programmer in Great Britain says he stumbled on to a kind of kill switch, based on the work of this computer programmer in Indiana.
Tonight law enforcement and intelligence authorities around the world, led by Britain’s new computer security squad where we recently were given rare access, are working to track down whoever was responsible, with Russian organized crime considered a leading suspect.
Ironically, cyber security experts believe the attack was carried out with the help of a program actually first developed by US intelligence to compromise the computers of terrorists and foreign adversaries.