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Some businesses in Asia disrupted by cyber attack, authorities brace for more

SINGAPORE/WASHINGTON —  Asian governments and businesses reported some disruptions from the WannaCry ransomware worm on Monday but cybersecurity experts warned of a wider impact as more employees turned on their computers and checked e­mails.

The ransomware that has locked up hundreds of thousands of computers in more than 150 countries has been mainly spread by e­mail, hitting factories, hospitals, shops and schools worldwide.

While the effect on Asian entities appeared to be contained on Monday, industry professionals flagged potential risks as more systems came online across the region.

Companies that were hit by the worm may be wary of making it public, they added.

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“We’re looking at our victims’ profiles, we’re still seeing a lot of victims in the Asia­Pacific region. But it is a global campaign, it’s not targeted,” said Tim Wellsmore, Director of Threat Intelligence, Asia Pacific at cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc.

“But I don’t think we can say it hasn’t impacted this region to the extent it has some other regions.”

Michael Gazeley, managing director of Network Box, a Hong Kong­based cybersecurity firm, said there were still “many ‘landmines’ waiting in people’s in­boxes” in the region, with most of the attacks having arrived via e­mail.

In China, the world’s second­largest economy, energy giant PetroChina said payment systems at some of its petrol stations were hit, although it had been able to restore most of the systems. Several Chinese government bodies, including police and traffic authorities, reported they had been impacted by the hack, according to posts on official microblogs.

Japan’s National Police Agency reported two breaches of computers in the country on Sunday ­ one at a hospital and the other case involving a private person ­ but no loss of funds.

Industrial conglomerate Hitachi Ltd. said the attack had affected its systems at some point over the weekend, leaving them unable to receive and send e­mails or open attachments in some cases. The problem is still ongoing, the company said.

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Financial markets in Asia were unfazed on Monday by news of the cyberattack, with stocks mostly up across the region. A spokesman for the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, one of the region’s biggest bourses, said all systems were so far working normally. “We remain highly vigilant,” he said.

A cybersecurity researcher in Asia who declined to be named said that while most banks globally had escaped damage, not all had installed patches in time. The result was that some phishing e­mails slipped through and were activated by users,
but were caught by other security systems in place.

At Indonesia’s biggest cancer hospital, Dharmais Hospital in Jakarta, around 100­200 people packed waiting rooms after the institution was hit by cyber attacks affecting scores of computers. By late morning, some people were still filling out forms manually, but the hospital said 70 percent of systems were back online now.