World Bulletin / News Desk
Governments and computer experts girded Monday for a possible worsening of the global cyberattack that has hit more than 150 countries, as Microsoft warned against stockpiling vulnerabilities like the one at the heart of the crisis.
The indiscriminate attack began Friday and struck banks, hospitals and government agencies, exploiting known vulnerabilities in older Microsoft computer operating systems.
US package delivery giant FedEx, European car factories, Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, Britain's health service and Germany's Deutsche Bahn rail network were among those hit.
In China, “hundreds of thousands” of computers at nearly 30,000 institutions and organisations were infected by late Saturday, according to Qihoo 360, one of China’s largest providers of antivirus software.
Government agencies and universities were among those hit as well as petrol stations, ATMs and hospitals, it said.
Europol executive director Rob Wainwright said the situation could worsen on Monday when workers return to their offices after the weekend and log on.
"We've never seen anything like this," the head of the European Union's policing agency told Britain's ITV television Sunday, calling its reach "unprecedented".
Wainwright described the cyberattack as an "escalating threat".
"I'm worried about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn on their machines on Monday," he said.
The warning was echoed by Britain's National Cyber Security Centre: "As a new working week begins it is likely, in the UK and elsewhere, that further cases of ransomware may come to light, possibly at a significant scale."
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The "growing societal unease" over the intensive use of smartphones by children is "at some point is likely to impact even Apple", they warned.
Such people would be "central" in their social networks, and thus likelier to spread disease-causing germs from one group to another.