Twenty-five cases of the global WannaCry ransomware virus have been reported in Hong Kong as of Tuesday morning, the government has said.

Two of the infections involved commercial computers. The remainder of the infected machines were personal home computers. No government computers are known to have been infected so far.

ransomware wannacry
Photo: HKFP remix.

The Hong Kong Productivity Council’s IT and business process general manager Wilson Wong told Commercial Radio that the government received a total of 23 new reports on Monday. The first two cases had been reported on Saturday and on Sunday.

Most of the computers infected with ransomware used the Windows 7 operating system. There has been one report of an infected commercial computer server, which used the Windows Server 2008 system.

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Global attacks

The current wave of WannaCry ransomware attacks spread across the globe on Friday evening, notably infecting computers from the UK’s National Health Service. According to MalwareTech – a UK cybersecurity research site – around 40 to 50 computers are being infected every minute.

The ransomware encrypts the files of infected users, who are presented with a screen demanding payment of US$300 (HK$2,300) in bitcoin within three days for decryption. After the three-day deadline, the payment demand is raised to US$600 (HK$4,700). The ransomware threatens to permanently encrypt the files after one week.

On Monday, security expert Eric Fan told HKFP that the retail sector, which often uses outdated Windows operating systems for basic sales tasks, is particularly at risk of infection.

Wilson Wong Productivity Council IT Business
Wilson Wong. Photo: Hong Kong Police/Facebook screenshot.

Wong added that the government has received some 230 requests for assistance in relation to WannaCry so far.

“This refers to the number of people who have called us to understand what this ransomware is, or maybe [their computers] have not been functioning normally,” he said at a Monday press conference. “This does not mean their computers have been infected.”

Among the 25 known cases of infections in Hong Kong, one has also been reported to the police.

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.