Wannacrypt Races Across the World

Please, folks… keep your computers updated.

LONDON — As many as 74 countries have been hit by a huge, fast-moving and global ransomware attack that locks computers and demands the digital equivalent of $300 per computer, Kaspersky Lab, a Russian-based cybersecurity company, said Friday.

The infections have disabled more than a dozen hospitals in the United Kingdom, Spain’s largest telecom company and universities in Italy as well as some FedEx computers. Ransomware encrypts the files on a computer or network demanding that payment be made in Bitcoin or another untraceable digital currency before the criminals will unlock the files.

Infected computers showed a screen giving the user three days to pay the ransom. After that, the price would be doubled. After seven days the files would be deleted, it threatened.

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Kasperksy’s Baumgartner did note that although the ransomware was able to offer “how to pay” documents in dozens of languages, the only language whose writing was perfect was Russian, with the others showing distinct signs that a non-native speaker had written them. “The English is very good, but there are a couple of quirks that would lead me to believe it wasn’t written by a native English speaker,” he said.