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Oman temporarily shuts down electronic services amid global cyberattacks

Users urged to protect their computers by updating anti-virus software and not click on strange links

Gulf News

Muscat: A number of Omani government institutions have temporarily suspended all their electronic services on Sunday as precautionary measures, following massive global cyber attacks.

The Oman National Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) affirmed that some government’s sites have been affected by the attacks. worldwide ransomware attack hit 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries, affecting everything from hospitals to schools and auto giants.

The Ministry of Manpower has temporarily halted all electronic services including the complaints system, work permit requests, commercial electronic license requests and work leave notices for 48 hours, the ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

The Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs, Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of Education, The Public Authority for Consumer Protection, and Muscat Municipality have also temporarily closed their electronic services as precautionary measures to avoid the virus spread.

Muscat Capital Market has also suspended online trading, and Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) said its electronic systems have been shut down to protect data as it was investigating possible attacks on their system.

Ahmad Al Beloushi, an IT expert, told Gulf News, that all users should properly update anti-virus software on their computers.

“Users should not open strange links and files,” he said.

Pictures posted on social media showed screens of NHS computers with images demanding payment of $300 in Bitcoin, saying: “Ooops, your files have been encrypted!”

It demands payment in three days or the price is doubled, and if none is received in seven days, the files will be deleted, according to the screen message.

All cyber security incidents in Oman should be reported at ocert999@ita.gov.om or on hotline 24166828.

CERT affirmed there was “no WannaCry decryption tool” or any other solution available so far.

WannaCry is a form of “ransomware” that locks up the files on your computer and encrypts them in a way that you cannot access them anymore.

Ransomware is a programme that gets into your computer, either by clicking on the wrong thing or downloading the wrong thing, and then it holds something you need to ransom.

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