A large-scale ransomware attack began impacting companies and hospitals across the United States, Europe, and Asia early Friday morning.  According to reports, companies in more than 70 countries have reported incidents as of Friday afternoon.

The attacks are being caused by ransomware called “WannaCry,” which quickly moves across systems to encrypt large amounts of computer data.  Ransom demands seen during the current attack have requested Bitcoin amounts that equal between $300 and $600 in return for the decryption key.  According to security researchers, the ransomware exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft’s Windows operating system that was disclosed in an April leak of NSA spying tools. Confirmed targets of the attack include Telefonica, Spain’s largest telecommunications provider, and the National Health System (NHS) in the United Kingdom.

Ransomware attacks are often discovered after computer systems begin malfunctioning or when files suddenly become inaccessible.  Forensics computer experts may be needed to investigate and provide assistance with addressing ransom demands.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s global data protection team is available to assist companies that believe they may be subject to a ransomware attack and to help companies prepare to guard against ransomware attacks. For more information, please visit our website.

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