Screenshot: MalwareHunterTeam

A ransomware attack is quickly spreading across the globe rendering vital systems inaccessible.

Friday morning, the Twitter account MalwareHunterTeam reported ransomware known as WanaCrypt0r (a WannaCry variant) spreading at an alarming rate. “In less than 3 hours (even can say less than 2 hours if we count it from the explosion), they got victims already from 11 countries.”

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Approximately 6 hours later, at 1pm ET, Kaspersky Lab reported more than 45,000 attacks in 74 countries. “Number still growing fast,” tweeted Costin Raiu, director of global research for the Moscow-based security firm.

Update: There is a patch for this exploit—see the bottom of the post for instructions.

Russia, Taiwan and Spain appear to be those initially hit the hardest, but a map of the infections generated by MalwareTech show the ransomware spreading to all populated continents, and numerous reports from security researchers indicate that WanaCrypt0r has also found its way into the US.

An initial report from UK-based MalwareTech researcher indicate that the ransomware was spreading peer-to-peer and may have been weaponized using a leaked Microsoft Windows exploit (EternalBlue) stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency.

Among those to first report infections publicly are 16 hospitals in England and the Spanish telecom Telefonica. The infected systems rendered files encrypted and inaccessible and a warning flashed across the screens. “You only have 3 days to submit the payment. After that the price will be doubled,” it reads. “Also if you don’t pay in 7 days, you won’t be able to recover your files forever.”


Update 5/12/17 2:34p EDT: FedEx confirmed to the BBC that it is experiencing “interference” with some of Windows-based systems “caused by malware.” The company said it was “implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible.”

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According to SwiftOnSecurity, after FedEx detected WannaCry infections at its UK offices, the company ordered its US partners to shut down all non-critical networked Windows-based systems.

Update 5/12/17 3:04p EDT: Click here for information about the Windows versions or editions affected and for details on how to patch (MS17-010) the EternalBlue exploit. Or click here for instructions on how to review and install high-priorities updates on your Windows laptop or PC.

This article will continue to be updated as new information comes in.