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New Zealand is on alert as cyberattack affects almost 100 countries

The ransomware infection has hit computers across the world.

Cyber-security attacks have been reported across the world.

New Zealand could be affected by a massive global cyber security attack that has hit computers in 99 countries.

News of the global cyber attacks emerged earlier today, with major security breaches reported in England.

Hackers, using adapted stolen National Security Agency programmes, gained access to the United Kingdom’s National Health System (NHS) and have effectively bought the system to a standstill, according to the BBC.

The extent of the hit means hospitals and doctors have been forced to turn away patients and cancel appointments. One NHS worker has said patients would “almost certainly suffer and die” as a result.

Stuff reports Ministry of Health officials have been briefed on the situation and have received precautionary advice.

Screenshot showing what comes up on hacked computers.
Screenshot showing what comes up on hacked computers.

Authorities currently assessing the worldwide situation believe it’s highly likely systems were infected with the ransomware bug Wanna Cry.

The malicious software is understood to be linked to a hacking group called Shadow Brokers. The malware infects systems, encrypts data, locks access then demands a payment.

During the attacks in England, computer screens showed a message demanding $300 in exchange for a decryption key that would unlock files.

Security software firm Avast said it had observed 57,000 infections in 99 countries. As well as targeting the UK, Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan; the hackers had also hit Spain Italy and Taiwan.

While researchers are saying the incidents appear to be linked, it may not be a co-ordinated attack on specific targets.

How can you protect yourself?

• Your first course of action should always be to back up your hard drive.

• Anti-virus software can protect your computer, although be aware cyber criminals are always working on new ways to override this.

• Never click on suspicious email, and do not click on suspicious links.

• Update software regularly. Changes are made to software to ensure the programmes are protected against new attacks circulating the internet