European Union’s police agency, Europol, has estimated that some 200,000 users in 150 countries have been affected by WannaCry, a virus which spread through devices across the world and locked them in exchange for cash.
“The global reach is unprecedented. The latest count is over 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries, and those victims, many of those will be businesses, including large corporations,” Europol Director Rob Wainwright said on Sunday.
The police official said the unique nature of the cyber attack, which used the “ransomware” in combination with “a worm functionality,” allowed it to spread automatically.
Wainwright said that the number of victims could grow when people return to work on Monday.
“At the moment, we are in the face of an escalating threat. The numbers are going up; I am worried about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn (on) their machines on Monday morning,” he said.
Experts and cyber police agencies are still investigating who could have been behind the massive attack which shut down services in many countries, including in Britain, where hospitals and health centers run by the National Health Service were hugely affected.
Wainwright said “for obvious reasons” the act could be criminally minded. He also denied claims that hackers have managed to extort large sums of money from the victims, saying a few, however, have paid to get their files and information unlocked.
“(There have been) remarkably few payments so far that we’ve noticed as we are tracking this, so most people are not paying this, so there isn’t a lot of money being made by criminal organizations so far,” Wainwright said.