Thai hospitals and companies hit by ransomware attacks

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Hospitals and companies in Thailand were hit by hackers who held their computer systems and data ransom, demanding payment to restore information, police said on Thursday.

“Government hospitals and companies were hacked in the same manner as Saraburi Hospital,” Major General Phanthana Nutchanart, said, referring to a cyber attack earlier this month.

Saraburi Hospital could not access its data on Sept. 5, slowing operations relying on manual functions, but the hospital did not receive a demand for payment.

Some organizations that received ransom demands have already paid to retrieve data, in sums not exceeding 1 million baht ($32,000), he said, adding that the total number of organizations affected was still being investigated.

Hackers attacked organizations with a “ransomware” code, which locks up the files on a computer and encrypts them, blocking access until the ransom is paid, usually in cryptocurrency like bitcoin.

In 2017, the WannaCry ransomware attack disrupted hospitals and businesses across the world.

Thai police believe that the virus originated in Europe.

Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama