Thursday, 19 April, 2018

New cyberattack causes mass disruption in Europe

Preston Stone | 29 June, 2017, 08:57

Russia's Rosneft energy company also reported falling victim to hacking, as did shipping company A.P. Moller-Maersk, which said every branch of its business was affected.

Researchers say hackers used a code known as "Eternal Blue", which is believed to be stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency, and also used in last month's ransomware attack.

Meanwhile, Kapersky Lab researchers have noted that the ransomware used in the assault may not even use the Petya virus at all. Ransomware attacks have been soaring and the number of such incidents increased by 50 percent in 2016, according to Verizon Communications Inc.

Microsoft said the virus could spread through a flaw that was patched in a security update in March.

The precise method by which the intruder circulates - such as by email or through a "worm" - remains unclear, specialists said.

"The company's telemetry data indicates around 2,000 attacked users so far", its statement continued, noting Ukraine and Russian Federation appear to be the most affected.

Other companies that said they had been hit by a cyber attack included Russian oil producer Rosneft, French construction materials firm Saint Gobain and the world's biggest advertising agency, WPP - though it was not clear if their problems were caused by the same virus.

Victims were locked out of their computer and told to purchase a key to reinstate access.

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"We are talking about a cyberattack", said Anders Rosendahl, a spokesman for the Copenhagen-based group.

"As a result of these cyber-attacks, banks were forced to restrict the functionality of services provided to customers". That cyber attack impacted everything from major worldwide companies to hospitals. The ransomware also appears to be spreading outside of Europe as several American companies are reporting disruptions, including drug giant Merck and law firm DLA Piper.

United Kingdom media company WPP's website is down, and employees have been told to turn off their computers and not use WiFi, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Ukraine's central bank on Tuesday said a cyberattack hit several lenders in the country, hindering operations and leading the regulator to warn other financial institutions to tighten security measures.

"With there being no global kill switch for this one, we'll continue to see the numbers rise in different parts of the world as more vulnerable systems become more exposed", said Beau Woods, deputy director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council in Washington.

"We stand ready to support any requests for assistance", officials said in a statement.

SingCERT advised all users and companies with these affected systems to ensure they are fully patched, antivirus software is updated with the latest malware definitions and perform file backups and store them offline in case they need to restore their systems following an online attack.

Still, the attack could be more risky than traditional strains of ransomware because it makes computers unresponsive and unable to reboot, Juniper Networks JNPR.N said in a blog post analysing the attack.

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