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Dublin: 14 °C Wednesday 17 July, 2019
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No reports of computer virus attacks in Ireland following global hacking

The situation is being monitored currently by the NCSC.

A map compiled by British company Malware Tech displays the geographical distribution of the WannaCry ransomware cyber-attack over the past twenty-four hours as seen on a computer screen in Portland Oregon.
A map compiled by British company Malware Tech displays the geographical distribution of the WannaCry ransomware cyber-attack over the past twenty-four hours as seen on a computer screen in Portland Oregon.
Image: Alex Milan Tracy/SIPA USA/PA Images

THERE HAVE BEEN no reports of computer malware attacks in Ireland, after systems in countries across the globe were targeted by hackers yesterday.

Among organisations affected by the onslaught were computer networks at hospitals in Britain, Russia’s interior ministry, the Spanish telecom giant Telefonica and the US delivery firm FedEx and many other organisations.

A spokesperson for the Department of Communications said that there had been no reports of malware attacks, and the National Cyber Security Centre was monitoring the situation.

“The attack is a ransomware or cryptolocker type event, a relatively common low-level form of cyber attack usually aimed at extorting relatively small sums of money,” the spokesperson said.

This event is of a very large-scale however, with several thousand victims globally.

The spokesperson said the situation in Ireland was being “monitored carefully”.

“The NCSC is monitoring the situation carefully, and cooperating with the HSE, with industry and with the Garda Cyber Crime Bureau,” they said.

The NCSC has also been in contact with similar bodies in other EU countries, including the UK, and will continue to act as conduit for technical information around this issue.

The HSE said last night that it had shut off outside communication for its servers as a precaution.

Speaking to reporters earlier today, Communications Minister Denis Naughten said there had been no reports of “a successful attack here”.

“That’s down to luck in some instances but also I think many of the agencies – particularly the HSE – have been quite proactive here,” he said.

They have taken some of the older equipment out of their network, they have been able to shut down their network and not allow access externally over the weekend.

Ransomware

The wave of cyberattacks, which affected dozens of countries, apparently exploited a flaw exposed in documents leaked from the US National Security Agency.

The attacks used a technique known as ransomware that locks users’ files unless they pay the attackers a designated sum in the virtual currency Bitcoin.

Britain’s National Health Service was badly hit, declaring a “major incident” after the attack, which forced some hospitals to divert ambulances and scrap operations.

Pictures posted on social media showed screens of NHS computers with images demanding payment of $300 (€275) in Bitcoin, saying:

Ooops, your files have been encrypted!

It demands payment in three days or the price is doubled, and if none is received in seven days, the files will be deleted, according to the screen message.

A hacking group called Shadow Brokers released the malware in April claiming to have discovered the flaw from the NSA, according to Kaspersky Lab, a Russian cybersecurity provider.

The Department of Communications spokesperson said that malware seemed “to be targeting a vulnerability that was identified previously, in software used to run Microsoft Windows SMB Server”.

Microsoft published a patch in March (MS17-010) to deal with this issue.

Kaspersky researcher Costin Raiu cited 45,000 attacks in 74 countries as of Friday evening.

With reporting from © AFP 2017

Read: ‘This was an international attack’: NHS plunged into chaos in large-scale cyber hack

Read: HSE removes all external access to its network following NHS cyber attack

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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