An expansive, fast-moving cyber-attack has disabled hospitals, universities and communications companies across the UK, Europe and as far as Asia. Russian-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab reports that as many as 74 countries have been hit by the malware, with the perpetrators demanding the equivalent of $300 to unlock affected systems.
The Barts Health Group, which helps manage some of the largest hospitals in London, said, "We are experiencing a major IT disruption and there are delays at all of our hospitals."
Patients had to be turned away from surgeries and appointments at medical facilities throughout England, and ambulances had to be rerouted to other hospitals as well.
Telefonica, one of the largest telecommunications companies in Spain, was one target, though their services and clients were not affected, as the malicious software only impacted certain computers on an internal network.
The malware used in the cyberattack has been identified as “Wanna Decryptor” or “Wanna Cry.” This “ransomware” is designed to lock up machines, not returning access until a ransom is paid.