China warns of new ransomware-like virus UIWIX

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Beijing, May 18 (IANS) Chinese authorities warned computer users of the risk of a new cyber attack by a virus similar to WannaCry ransomware that has affected over 150 countries since it was detected last week, causing widespread panic.

The National Computer Virus Emergency Response Centre (CVERC) and software company AsiaInfo on Wednesday detected the “UIWIX” virus, which is spreading in a similar way like the “WannaCry” ransomware, Xinhua news agency reported.

Both viruses use security holes in the Microsoft Windows operating systems to rename files and encrypt them in order to limit users from accessing the computer or files unless they pay a ransom, CVERC deputy head Chen Jianmin said.

The virus usually renames files with the extension “.UIWIX”, and although no infections have been reported in China as yet, the CVERC was on alert.

Meanwhile, Windows released a security update to protect computers against the virus.

Beijing authorities earlier this week announced the discovery of another mutation of WannaCry, the “WannaCry 2.0.”

Chinese newspaper Global Times said WannaCry is based on EternalBlue, an application developed by US’ National Security Agency to attack computers using the Microsoft Windows operating system.

Qin An, director of the China Institute of Cyberspace Strategy, said the attack “again reminds the world of the great harm the US’ network hegemony and its network weapons can bring about”.

Among the over 30,000 companies affected by the WannaCry ransomware attack in China included hospitals, train stations, universities, government offices, post offices and gas stations.

One of the worst hit by the ransomware was the powerful state-controlled oil company CNPC, the fourth largest company in the world in terms of revenue, which was forced to disconnect the servers of more than 20,000 service stations and temporarily stop accepting online payments.

–IANS

soni/vt

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