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Be on alert

May 16,2017
Europol, the European Union’s police agency, on Sunday said more than 200,000 ransomware attacks affected computers in over 150 countries during the weekend, disrupting hospital, corporate and public administrative work on an unprecedented scale.

At least five hospitals and companies in Korea were affected by the malware infection. Cinema operator CGV said that some of its theater servers have been infected. The ransomware, dubbed WannyCrypt or WannaCry, locks down all the files on an infected computer and asks the computer’s administrator for money to regain access.

The attack is a cyber crime demanding payment by taking data as hostage. The international community must closely cooperate to track down those behind the attacks.

The malware is believed to have spread from Britain’s National Health Service and spilled over other European countries and as far as Russia, China, India, and Korea.

The attack, which takes advantage of a Windows vulnerability, is not simple to solve. The computer or operating system of a mobile device can be reformatted, but there is no guarantee the data can be restored upon receiving a decryption key. Payment also does not ensure full recovery of their files. Victims are advised to report to the public authorities instead of individually paying the hackers.

Experts believe there will be more damage reported in Korea as many may not have properly turned off their computers on Friday. Computer users are advised not to open an unfamiliar file. The malware can spread through opening a URL link or video file.

The authorities must alert the public of the cyberattack. Security companies should help update software to strengthen protection. Individuals should make it a habit to regularly back up their important files.

In a world where cyber attacks are constantly evolving, everyone must be alert and prepared.

JoongAng Ilbo, May 15, Page 34