Updated: Friday, May 12, 2017 at 5:51 p.m.
A stunning global cyberattack disrupted business and health systems in scores of countries on Friday, including in hospitals across England that were crippled by the large-scale ransomware attack.
“Currently, we have recorded more than 45,000 attacks of the WannaCry ransomware in 74 countries around the world, mostly in Russia,” the cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab wrote in a blog post. “It’s important to note that our visibility may be limited and incomplete and the range of targets and victims is likely much, much higher.”
Doctors, administrators, and other NHS workers across England were locked out of their computers, and instead saw a pop-up message demanding ransom in exchange for access to the system, according to several reports. NHS England didn’t immediately respond to questions about whether any ransom was paid, the amount of the requested ransom, or whether the system was fully operational again. “This attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organizations from across a range of sectors,” the NHS said in a statement emailed to The Atlantic.
The attack seemed to exploit a common vulnerability that was discovered and developed by the National Security Agency, The New York Times reported:
The hacking tool was leaked by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers, which has been dumping stolen N.S.A. hacking tools online beginning last year. Microsoft rolled out a patch for the vulnerability last March, but hackers took advantage of the fact that vulnerable targets — particularly hospitals — had yet to update their systems.
Some hospitals affected by the attack were diverting ambulances to other centers, and asked people to stay away from emergency rooms unless they needed urgent care, Reuters reported.