Tuesday, 21 November, 2017

'Petya' ransomware attack goes global, targets Merck in US

The vehicle blew up at a Kiev intersection on Tuesday morning The vehicle blew up at a Kiev intersection on Tuesday morning
Derrick Tucker | 28 June, 2017, 03:35

The attack is a clone of the GoldenEye variant of the Petya family of ransomware, which uses the same method of infection as WannaCry. The attack hit major companies in countries like Spain, India, and the United Kingdom, and now appears to have reached the US.

"Obviously, if it is confirmed that the EternalBlue is the only spreading mechanism, there will be inevitable questions about how organizations could still fall to this attack after all the publicity and support tools... that were produced as part of the WannaCry response", Marco Cova, senior security researcher at Lastline, a Redwood City, California, cybersecurity firm, said in a statement.

Banks were experiencing "difficulty in servicing customers and performing banking operations" due to the attacks, the bank said in a statement. Norway's National Security Authority said an "international company" there was affected.

By midafternoon, breaches had been reported at computers governing the municipal energy company and airport in Ukraine's capital, Kiev, the state telecommunications company Ukrtelecom, the Ukrainian postal service and the State Savings Bank of Ukraine.

Danish shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk was hit, reporting that their computer systems are down across multiple sites.

Russia's Rosneft, one of the world's biggest crude producers by volume, said its systems had suffered "serious consequences", but added oil production had not been affected because it switched over to backup systems.

The U.S. -based pharmaceutical firm Merck also said it's been hit.

"This will undeniably affect trust in these organisations and raise questions of competency", said Louis Rynsard, a director at the corporate communications agency SBC London.

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It is unclear how the attack began, or how it spread to other countries. A WPP employee who asked not to be named said that workers were told to shut down their computers: "The building has come to a standstill". The blog showed a screen shot said to be displayed on DLA Piper computer monitors that told users their files have been encrypted, and they will need to pay $300 worth of Bitcoin for a key to access them.

"Perhaps you are busy looking for a way to recover your files, but don't waste your time".

Unlike the recent WannaCry attack, the new attack had sophisticated elements that could make it easier to rapidly infect many more systems, he said. One consumer lender, Home Credit, had to suspend client operations.

Computers at Merck facilities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey locked up Tuesday morning around 8am local time, according to the Inquirer.

Whatever its source, the virus appeared to be spreading on Tuesday. For now, it recommends Ukrainians simply turn their computers off.

Britain's National Cyber Security Centre blamed the attack on the Lazarus Group, a gang of hackers in the employ of Kim Jong-un's regime.

According to the state security agency, the emails contained infected Word documents or PDF files as attachments.

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