Cyber attack is biggest of its kind ever launched, say security chiefs

Tens of thousands of computer were "locked" - the screens displaying the telltale ransom demand.

Senior security staff held another meeting in the White House Situation Room on Saturday, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency were trying to identify the perpetrators of the massive cyber attack, said the official, who spoke on condition on anonymity to the news agency to discuss internal deliberations. Cybersecurity experts say the unknown hackers who launched this weekend's "ransomware" attacks used a vulnerability that was exposed in NSA documents leaked online.

At least one strain of the ransomware has proven especially vicious.

It was unclear why NHS computers were not patched with Microsoft updates to close the vulnerability that allowed the worm to spread across its networks.

For example, if an office worker opens an infected PDF attached to an email, soon everyone in the office could be under attack.

The list of institutions affected has grown as more become aware of hacks and variants of the virus spread.

It has crippled Britain's health system - with stroke victims unable to undergo urgent surgery because their scans could not be accessed - and affected other businesses around the world.

Nissan: The carmaker said in a statement that "some Nissan entities were recently targeted" but "there has been no major impact on our business".

In China, universities and other educational institutions were among the hardest hit, possibly because schools tend to have old computers and be slow to update operating systems and security, said Fang Xingdong, founder of ChinaLabs, an internet strategy think tank.

They should do this before they open their emails or other programs.

Security experts warned that further cyberattacks are likely.

"This as not targeted at the NHS, it's an global attack, and a number of countries and organizations have been affected", she said. The company said the virus has been localized and "technical work is underway to destroy it and update the antivirus protection".

He added: "It's not a massively sophisticated attack".

"Right now, just about every IT department has been working all weekend rolling this out", said Dan Wire, spokesman at Fireeye Security.

Megafon: A spokesperson for Russian telecommunications company Megafon told CNN that the cyberattack affected call centers but not the company's networks.

Telefónica: Spanish authorities confirmed the Spanish telecom company Telefónica was one of the targets, though the attack affected only some computers and did not compromise the security of clients' information.

In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service has been forced to cancel operations today within its hospitals after computers used to share patients' test results and scans with doctors remain frozen.

However, within the UK's NHS problems have continued, with some outpatient appointments and minor operations being cancelled or scaled back at some United Kingdom hospitals.

Government ministers were due to hold an emergency response meeting later on Monday to deal with the crisis.

Security Minister Ben Wallace said the government used to contract for computer services across the entire NHS but that in 2007 - when the Labour Party was in power - that was stopped and left to the individual trusts.

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