A massive ransomware campaign appears to have infected a number of organisations around the world, with cases reported in the UK, US, China, Russia, Spain, Italy, Vietnam and many others.
Cybersecurity researchers said they have detected 36,000 instances of the ransomware called WannaCry virus and variants of the name.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.
It installs covertly on a victim’s device, which could be a computer, smartphone or wearable device. It then either mounts the cryptoviral extortion attack from cryptovirology that holds the victim’s data hostage.
A number of organisations and companies in these countries have been affected; such as the UK’s National Health Service, telecoms giant Telefonica, power firm Iberdrola, as well as utility provider Gas Natural.
Several experts monitoring the situation have linked the infections to vulnerabilities released by a group known as the Shadow Brokers, which recently claimed to have dumped hacking tools from the National Security Agency (NSA).