Hackers have caused widespread disruption across Europe, hitting Ukraine especially hard.
There’s very little information about who might be behind the disruption, but technology experts who examined screenshots circulating on social media said it bears the hallmarks of ransomware, the name given to programs that hold data hostage by scrambling it until a payment is made.
Some are speculating whether the attack is similar to the WannaCry virus that caused global chaos in May.
Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, wrote in a Facebook post that the attack was “the largest in the history of Ukraine.” He speculated the attacks originated in Russia, and characterized it as a “war in cyberspace.”
Company and government officials reported major disruption to the Ukrainian power grid, banks, and government offices. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Pavlo Rozenko on Tuesday posted a picture of a darkened computer screen to Twitter, saying that the computer system at the government’s headquarters has been shut down.
Even supermarkets were affected, as this photo from Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv shows:
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.
Britain’s WPP, the world’s largest advertising company, was also affected, the BBC reported.
“It appears to be a variant of a piece of ransomware that emerged last year,” Alan Woodward, a computer scientist at Surrey University, told the BBC. “It was updated earlier in 2017 by the criminals when certain aspects were defeated.”
Saint Gobain, a French construction materials company, said it was also the victim of an attack, and a spokesman told Reuters that they were isolating computer systems in order to protect data.
The food company Mondelez International said its employees were experiencing technical “difficulties in various geographies,” but weren’t sure if they too were the victim of a cyberattack.
This story is developing.