Ransomware cyber-attack threat escalating - Europol

Speaking to Britain's ITV, he said the world faced an escalating threat, and there was concern about the level of potential attacks on Monday morning.

The virus took control of users' files, demanding payments; Russia and the UK were among the worst-hit countries.

Experts say another attack could be imminent and have warned people to ensure their security is up to date.

Mr Wainwright said he was concerned that the numbers of those affected would continue to rise when people returned to work on Monday morning.

Technology behind 'all serious crime'

The returns generated by document fraud, money laundering and online trade in illegal goods helps to pay for other damaging crimes, said Europol.

The wider use of technology by criminal gangs poses the "greatest challenge" to police forces, it said in a study.

It revealed that Europol is currently tracking 5,000 separate international organised crime groups.

Empty houses

Europol arrest 5 cyber thieves

Three of the suspects, Andrejs Peregudovs (41), of Latvia, Niklae Penkov (34) of Moldova, and Mihail Colibaba (30) of Romania, were arrested in Taiwan by the Taiwanese Criminal Investigation Bureau last summer, have already been sentenced to 5 years in prison for their role in a massive ATM heist operation, involving 22 individuals from 6 countries.

Teen hackers study considers link to addiction

The report was written for the EU's law enforcement agency Europol.

It says that readily available online tools and tutorials make it easy for youth to begin committing cybercrimes.

And it warns that a sense of pleasure derived from the acts might encourage some perpetrators to escalate their attacks.

"[The hormone] dopamine can be released quickly as vulnerable youth achieve frequent and rapid successes online, and if these successes are linked to anti-social acts, such as hacking, they will be reinforced to pursue further ends to obtain their gains," it states.

Europol report reveals rise in child sex abuse online

In its cyber crime report, Europol said the use of encrypted tools, which enable offenders to stay anonymous, were now "becoming the norm".

With millions of children online, access to them was "higher than ever".

Cybercrime reporting in Europe had surpassed traditional crimes, it said.

Europol called the ability for child sex offenders to communicate, store and share materials and hunt for new victims online "one of the internet's most damaging and abhorrent aspects".