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He called the attack 'unprecedented', though said vital services would not be affected.

Another screen with red text warns that files on the computer have been encrypted and will only be released if a payment of £300 in anonymous online currency Bitcoin is made.

'They will be the locations that for some reason or another could not afford to patch in a timely manner.'Places that may have industrial controls or other critical infrastructure that can't easily be taken offline to upgrade.' Such viruses hold data to ransom, scrambling it until a payment is made, usually requesting virtual currency Bitcoin because it cannot be traced to a user.

Companies in the US, Germany, Norway, Russia, Denmark and France are among those to have confirmed issues so far.

He said: 'The company that hosts the email account which the ransomware asks you to contact has closed the account.

There's no way to get files back.'It's early days - we don't know if we can find a fix yet.

While experts cannot definitively say where that attack originated, information hidden in the code used to run in pointed to the involvement of North Korea. Ransomware is a type of malicious software that criminals use to attack computer systems.

Hackers often demand the victim to pay ransom money to access their files or remove harmful programs.

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