Cyberattack spreads in Asia

HONG KONG — A global cyberattack spread to thousands of additional computers Monday as workers logged in at the start of a new workweek.

Universities, hospitals, businesses and daily life were disrupted, but no catastrophic breakdowns were reported. In Europe, where the cyberattack first emerged, officials said it appeared that a much-feared second wave — based on copycat variants of the original malicious software — had not yet materialized.

The new disruptions were most apparent in Asia, where many workers had already left Friday when the attack broke out.

China alone reported disruptions at nearly 40,000 organizations, including about 4,000 academic institutions, figures that experts say are most likely to be low estimates, given the prevalence of pirated software there.

The list of affected institutions includes two of China's most prestigious institutions of higher education, Tsinghua and Peking universities; a movie theater chain in South Korea; and blue-chip companies in Japan like Hitachi and Nissan, which emphasized that their business operations had not been impaired.

The cyberattack has afflicted 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries. Transmitted by email, the malicious software, or malware, locks users out of their computers, threatening to destroy data if a ransom is not paid.

The so-called ransomware continued to ripple through politics and markets Monday. Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, blamed the United States, noting that the malicious software used in the attack had originally been developed by the National Security Agency. (It was then stolen and released by an elite hacking group known as the Shadow Brokers.)

Monday morning, 11 technology companies in China, mostly dealing in internet security, suspended trading after their stocks rose 10 percent, the daily limit. Shares in European cybersecurity firms gained in early trading Monday, as investors appeared to target companies that would benefit from increased attention on keeping data, networks and computers secure.

The Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said the attacks in his country seemed to be limited mostly to small businesses.

"We haven't seen the impact that they've seen, for example, in the United Kingdom," Turnbull said. "But it is very important that business and enterprises that are in the private or government sector make sure those patches for the Windows systems that were made available by Microsoft in March are installed."


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