On Friday morning, somewhere in Europe, an unwitting user opened an email attachment or clicked a link allowing the ransomware “WannaCry” to infect their computer. The virus spread rapidly, infecting 200,000 systems in more than 150 countries around the world.
Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica was the among the first large company to be infected by WannaCry before Britain’s National Health Service also reported being hit by the attack on Friday, leading to thousands of cancelled appointments and operations.
Elsewhere in Europe, French carmaker Renault was hit as was German rail company, Deutsche Bahn, while FedEx computers in the U.S. also fell victim to the malware.
“It exposes a vulnerability in Windows XP for file sharing protocol,” said cybersecurity expert Daniel Tobok. “It gets into one computer and then from there laterally goes into all the computers on the network.”