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Cyber attack spreads across 150 countries

An international ransomware cyber attack has so far hit thousands of organisations in more than 150 countries, according to Europol, the European Union's police agency.

While the number of firms targeted reached 100,000, the number of individuals who have fallen victim to the cyber extortion attack could be much higher, said Jan Op Gen Oorth, Europol spokesman.

Other reports put that number as high as 200,000.

He said it was too early to say who is behind the onslaught and what their motivation was.

The main challenge was the fast-spreading capabilities of the malware, but he added that, so far, not many people have paid the ransoms that the virus demands.

He warned that more people may be hit by the virus on Monday when they return to work and switch on their computers.

The attack that began Friday is believed to be the biggest online extortion attack ever recorded, with victims including Britain's hospital network and Germany's national railway.

AP

The effects were felt across the globe, with Russia's Interior Ministry and companies including Spain's Telefonica, FedEx Corp in the US and French carmaker Renault all reporting disruptions.

On Sunday, Chinese media reported that students at several universities were hit by the virus, which blocked access to their thesis papers and their dissertation presentations.

Darien Huss, a research engineer who assisted the anonymous 22-year-old British researcher who has been lauded a hero, said he was "still worried for what's to come in the next few days, because it really would not be so difficult for the actors behind this to re-release their code without a kill switch or with a better kill switch.

"Or we could potentially see copycats mimic the delivery or exploit method they used," he said.

AP

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