World

Some 30,000 Chinese institutions infected

China hard hit by global ransomware attack, which spread quickly in varsities

SHANGHAI: "Hundreds of thousands" of Chinese computers at nearly 30,000 institutions - including government agencies - have been hit by the global ransomware attack, said a leading Chinese security software provider. Apart from that, the Asian impact has been relatively muted.

The enterprise security division of Qihoo 360, one of China's leading suppliers of anti-virus software, said 29,372 institutions ranging from government offices to universities, ATMs and hospitals had been infected by the outbreak as of late Saturday.

In a statement on Sunday, Qihoo 360 said the ransomware had spread particularly quickly through universities and research institutions, affecting more than 4,000 of them.

Governments, companies and computer experts around the world were prepared yesterday for a possible worsening of the cyber attack that has hit more than 150 countries as people return for another work week.

The indiscriminate attack began on Friday, exploiting known vulnerabilities in older Microsoft computer operating systems.

Chinese state media yesterday quoted the official Cyberspace Administration of China as saying the attack is still spreading in the country but had slowed significantly.

It warned computer users to install and upgrade security software as a precaution.

State-owned oil giant PetroChina said in a statement that it had to disconnect the networks linking its petrol stations nationwide for 12 hours last Saturday and accept only cash after the company's Internet payment functions were disabled.

By late Sunday, around 80 per cent of its network was back online.

UNSTABLE

Japanese media reported that 2,000 computers at 600 companies and organisations in the country had been affected, citing the Japan Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Centre.

A spokesman for Japanese conglomerate Hitachi said yesterday that the company's computer networks were "unstable", crippling its e-mail systems.

"We found the problems this morning. We assume that the problems are due to the weekend's global cyber attacks.

"We have not received any reports of damage to our production.

"We don't know when the problem can be solved," said the spokesman.

Authorities across the world have issued public alerts warning computer users to beware of suspicious e-mails and beef up their computer security measures.

"Please beware and take preventive steps against the malware attack," said Indonesia's Communication and Information Minister Rudiantara.

Mr Rudiantara was speaking to reporters following reports that records and billing systems in at least one Indonesian hospital had been crippled.

Chinese state media have reported that police departments in some major cities had suspended some non-emergency services, though it was not clear whether the ransomware threat was to blame in all cases.

Dozens of Chinese universities have issued alerts about the attack and advised students to disable their Internet connections before turning on their computers.

The attack sent share prices of Chinese Internet security firms soaring. - AFP

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