Czechs not hard hit by malware so far

A program that holds computers for ransom was not widespread domestically

The malware attack that affected computers worldwide seems to have not had much impact on the Czech Republic. Only 370 computers were thought to have been infected between the launch of the attack on Friday and by midday Saturday, according to Prague-based cyber security firm Avast. There was no news that any government institutions had been hit.

The country that was most affected was Russia, where several ministries and a major bank were hit, according to security firm Kaspersky.

But some experts warn the attack may continue with the start of the work week.

The malware called WannaCry takes the computer hostage and asks for a ransom equivalent to $300 to be paid in bitcoin. Authorities in the US and UK have been urging people not to pay.

Europol, an EU police organization, said on Sunday that 200,000 victims had been hit in 150 countries, including large corporations and institutions such as Britain's National Health Service. French carmaker Renault had to shut down several factories, and utilities in Spain were also affected, among many others.

Europol director Rob Wainwright said told British news media that the global reach is unprecedented. Steps had been made in slowing the spread of the malware, and a kill switch to stop the virus has been discovers, but new versions are expected.

“At the moment, we are in the face of an escalating threat. The numbers are going up, I am worried about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn their machines on Monday morning,” Wainwright said.

The malware exploits security flaws to spread across networks, which is why it has hit businesses and government institutions the hardest. Companies should update software before people start to work, he said.

Microsoft has released patches to fix the vulnerability that allowed the worm to spread across networks. It released patches last month for the security flaw but did not include Windows XP, Windows 8 or Windows Server 2003. Patches were released Friday for the older systems. Many of the affected computers were running XP. Windows usually charges businesses for support on older operating systems, and the move to release free patches was unusual.

Health authorities in the UK are hurrying to upgrade security software. Many health services had to shut down on Friday in the UK.

Authorities are trying to track down the people behind the malware. The outbreak has been linked to a set of cyber-attack tools leaked by hacking group the Shadow Brokers in April. Allegedly, the tool used came from the US spy organization NSA, but that has not been confirmed.

The NSA has been facing criticism from legal experts and civil liberties advocates for not disclosing the vulnerabilities and instead seeking to exploit them.

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