News is unfolding of a large scale cyber attack hitting Ukraine, Russia and other places in Europe, very rapidly. British advertising agency WPP is among a number of companies reporting problems.
At the same time Ukrainian firms were among the first to be hit, with the state power distributor and Kiev’s main airport affected. The Ukrainian central bank also reported problems. Ukraine’s deputy prime minister has tweeted a picture appearing to show government systems have been affected: “Ta-daaa! Network is down at the Cabinet of Minister’s secretariat.”
It is very early stages, but some experts believe it could be another ransomware attack, similar to WannaCry.
Alan Woodward, a computer scientist at Surrey University, said: “It appears to be a variant of a piece of ransomware that emerged last year…It was updated earlier in 2017 by the criminals when certain aspects were defeated. The ransomware was called Petya and the updated version Petrwap.”
Indeed, according to early reports, a widespread ransomware attack – based on a variant of the ‘Petya’ ransomware – and initially mostly affecting Ukrainian firms, is beginning to affect firms around the globe. Following on from other recent ransomware incidents, the outbreak is a reminder that preventative measures alone cannot provide full protection, and other failsafe measures – especially back-up – are a key aspect of business continuity assurance.
Andrew Stuart, MD, Datto EMEA commenting on this says: “As details emerge from this latest outbreak, we see again that preventative security measures are continuing to fail at stopping ransomware before it can cripple business networks. Although vulnerability scanning and anti-virus is an important measure in catching and blocking known strains, new ones – in this case rumoured to be related to ‘Petya’ – can pass through defences undetected before wreaking havoc.”
Russian oil producer Rosneft and Danish shipping company Maersk continue to face disruption in its operations, including its offices in the UK and Ireland.
“We can confirm that Maersk IT systems are down across multiple sites and business units due to a cyber-attack,” the Copenhagen-headquartered firm said via Twitter.
“We continue to assess the situation. The safety of our employees, our operations and customers’ business is our top priority.”
Other countries in Europe were not spared either. Reports from the Spanish media suggest that multinationals like food giant Mondelez and legal firm DLA Piper were targeted in the attacks, while French construction materials company St Gobain has said it also a victim.
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister has tweeted a picture appearing to show government systems have been affected.
His caption reads: “Ta-daaa! Network is down at the Cabinet of Minister’s secretariat.”
As of yet few details are available, however, Patrick Hunter – director at One Identity has offered some early insight on the breaking news;
“Where are the lessons learnt? It seem that these types of attacks only happen to other people. Wrong! All computer systems are vulnerable, on all operating systems, on all versions. This again underlines the need for solid and easily to understand education for both users and management. Just because a company isn’t running Windows XP, it doesn’t mean that they are going to be immune. This latest tranche of ransomware seems to be hitting more modern versions.”
“These aren’t attacks per se – they are not aimed or guided – they are just users clicking on things they shouldn’t and introducing the virus into their company network.”
“Securing the perimeter will help keep the wolf out but the users must stop inviting them in through the back door. This is how more insidious Trojans enter the network and can be used to syphon company data out of the network; user names, password s and credit card data. Controlling what the users have access to and limit them to what they need in order to do their jobs goes a long way to halt the spread of these sorts of viruses.”
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