Network cables are seen going into a server in an office building in Washington, DC, on May 13, 2017. International investigators hunted on Saturday for those behind an unprecedented cyber-attack that affected systems in dozens of countries, including at banks, hospitals and government agencies, as security experts sought to contain the fallout. The assault, which began Friday and was being described as the biggest-ever cyber ransom attack, struck state agencies and major companies around the world — from Russian banks and British hospitals to FedEx and European car factories. (AFP Photo/Andrew Caballero-Reynolds
Malaysia’s cyber security agency has issued an alert as the country emerged as one of the nearly 100 nations hit by a massive global cyberattack of ransomware.
CyberSecurity Malaysia, an agency under the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, urged all Internet users and system administrators to secure their machines and networks to protect against the “WanaCrypt0r 2.0” or WannaCry ransomware.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.
“We urge system administrators to patch their systems as soon as possible and keep their users aware of the new ransomware in order to prevent them from opening suspicious e-mails and files,” said chief executive officer Amirudin Abdul Wahab in the alert issued on Saturday.
The alert said the malware used a vulnerability first revealed to the public as part of a leaked stash of documents from the National Security Agency, America’s military intelligence organization.
The cyberattack detected on Friday reportedly hit 99 countries, affecting the computer networks of Britain’s National Health Service, Russia’s interior ministry and international shipper FedEx, among others.
AFP quoted British Prime Minister Theresa May as saying that the attack was not targeted at any particular country.
“It’s an international attack and a number of countries and organizations have been affected,” May said.
A real-time map of the attack by security blog MalwareTech that was widely referred to in international news reports put Malaysia as one of the countries hit.
However, it did not specify which computer networks or servers were affected.
Reuters reported that victims who opened infected e-mail attachments would find their data encrypted.
The ransomware would then demand payments of up to US$600 (2,640 Malaysian ringgit) to restore access.
CyberSecurity said ransomware could lead to temporary or permanent loss of sensitive or proprietary information, disruption to regular operations, financial losses and potential harm to an organization’s reputation.
It advised Internet users to back up their data regularly, maintain an up-to-date anti-virus operating system and not to click on unsolicited e-mail attachments.
“We are monitoring the situation in Malaysia and will take necessary action by providing technical assistance to affected organizations and individual users on remediation and prevention,” said Amirudin.
Internet users can keep track of CyberSecurity’s latest threat advisories on its website www.mycert.org.my.
As at 10 a.m. on Saturday, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission said no attacks had been reported.
This article appeared on The Star newspaper website, which is a member of Asia News Network and a media partner of The Jakarta Post