MICROSOFT has laid much of the blame for the international cyber attack that has hit the NHS firmly at the door of the US as it called on governments around the world to use it as a ‘wake-up call’.
Brad Smith, the technology firm’s president and chief legal officer, criticised US intelligence agencies the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA) for ‘stockpiling’ software code which could be exploited by hackers.
Mr Smith said the ‘ransomware’ attacks had used data stolen from the NSA earlier this year — which contained information on software vulnerabilities the government had hoped to hoard – and subsequently leaked them online.
In a blog post, he said: ‘An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen.
‘And this most recent attack represents a completely unintended but disconcerting link between the two most serious forms of cyber security threats in the world today – nation-state action and organised criminal action.’
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia was not behind the attack.
Around 1,000 computers at the Russian Interior Ministry are thought to have been affected.
Putin said Russia had last year sought an agreement with the previous US administration on cooperation in the field of cyber security, but that Washington had dragged its feet and no deal was concluded.
It comes after more than 200,000 victims in around 150 countries were infected by the ransomware which originated in the UK and Spain on Friday before spreading around the world.
The attack, known as ‘WannaCry’ had a major impact across Asia as workers there returned to work on Monday, with Chinese state media saying almost 30,000 institutions there had been infected.
The NHS was one of many major global organisations affected, with 47 trusts hit.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) today confirmed there has not been a second wave of cyber attacks on NHS trusts.
In his first public comments since the attack on Friday, Mr Hunt told Sky News: ‘I have this morning been briefed by GCHQ and the National Cyber Security Centre, and according to our latest intelligence, we have not seen a second wave of attacks and the level of criminal activity is at the lower end of the range that we had anticipated, and so I think that is encouraging.’
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said Conservative cutbacks had put people at risk.
‘Cutting of security for the system and, indeed, their undermining of funding for the NHS as a whole, has put patients, and, indeed, our whole health service, at risk.’
Home Secretary Amber Rudd is to chair a meeting of the Government’s emergency Cobra committee at the Cabinet Office on Whitehall at 5pm on Monday to assess progress on dealing with the attack.
In its latest update on the incident Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, said it was the ‘largest ransomware attack observed in history’.