China Hit Hard by Hacking Attack as Asia Assesses Damage

Asia began to grapple on Monday with its share of the ransomware attacks taking aim at computers across the globe, with China reporting disruptions at tens of thousands of institutions.

China at first seemed to have escaped the brunt of the breaches, but new cases kept emerging over the weekend. The state news media said on Monday that about 40,000 institutions had been struck; of those, 4,000 were academic.

The numbers could grow as computer security experts assess the damage after the start of the workweek on Monday, though analysts said that cases in China, where the use of pirated software has long been a problem, were likely to be underreported.

On social media, students reported being locked out of final papers, while other people said A.T.M.s, some government offices and the payment systems at gas stations had been affected. Talk of how to avoid the virus was widespread on the messaging app WeChat over the weekend.

Some of the gems of higher education in China, including Tsinghua University and Peking University, were hit by the hacking, according to the state-run news media. The schools are centers of scientific and computing research for the government.

Securities and banking regulators issued warnings to businesses and financial institutions to audit their networks before bringing computers online to limit damage from the intrusion. The securities regulator also said that it had taken down its network and was installing a patch as a security measure.

The state-run oil company, PetroChina, confirmed that the attack had disrupted the electronic payment capabilities at many of its gas stations over the weekend. By Sunday, it said 80 percent of its stations were functioning normally.

The southern city of Yiyang, with a population of more than four million, said its traffic department had to disconnect from the internet and suspend all operations, while Xi’an, a city of more than eight million in northern China, said the processing of drivers’ tests and traffic violations would be affected because its traffic department had similarly been cut off.


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