Money was demanded by the hackers in the digital currency bitcoin to unlock it. PIX: P. Götzelt/dpa

The recent worldwide cyberattack has affected at least 150 countries, with hospitals being particularly susceptible, Europol head Rob Wainwright said Sunday in an interview with British broadcaster ITV.

The director of the EU law enforcement agency said the number of victims of Friday’s attack so far totalled around 200,000 in what he described as “a huge strategic concern.”

Europol has proposed an international line of action to find those behind the extortion attack, which encrypted files on computers around the world and blocked access to content. Money was then demanded by the hackers in the digital currency bitcoin to unlock it.

Meanwhile, IT security experts are predicting further so-called ransomware attacks.

Ruediger Trost of the security firm F-Secure told dpa that he expected “another wave” of attacks “sooner or later,” while the unidentified British IT researcher who stopped the spread of Friday’s attack said the next attack could start as early as Monday.

“There’s a lot of money in this. There’s no reason for them to stop,” the 22-year-old told Britain’s BBC. “It’s not really much effort for them to change the code and then start over.” -DPA

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