Three continents hit by the latest wave of cyber-attack

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Just few weeks ago, the world was shaken by the intense of ransomware, also known as WannaCry, cyber-attack that affected over 150 countries. Before companies could come up with an effective measure to deal with such attacks in the future, another cyber-attack hit computer systems internationally.

On Tuesday, another ransomware cyber-attack managed to cripple thousands of computer systems around the globe, from the United States to India. From ATMs in the capital of Ukraine that stopped working to the multination Danish company, Maersk struggling to respond to a Cadbury’s factory in Australia, systems were gravely affected by the virus.

The attack began from Ukraine just a day before the country was going to observe a holiday that marks the adoption of its first Constitution that was passed 31 years ago after its break from the Soviet Union. It then soon spread to other countries. Although investigations are underway, so far it is unknown who is behind this massive attack.

Most companies across Europe and in India – the country’s unit of Reckitt and Benckiser was also hit by the ransomware attack – that were affected by the virus are trying to gauge the intensity of the damage, this new cyber-attack has caused.

According to the spokesperson of the shipping giant, Maersk the breakdown had affected almost all the units in its business. The ransomware attack affected different business units of the Danish conglomerate, from port, container shipping to oil tankers and drilling services.

According to broadcaster RTV Rijnmond at least 17 of Maersk’s container terminals were hacked but whether Maersk’s 16 per cent market share in the shipping industry will be affected by the cyberattack’s intensity is still to be known. Handling one out of seven containers that are shipped worldwide, even a slightest delay in its shipment can mean trouble.

As a result, although the company manually carried out its operations in the wake of the cyber-attack, it is still trying to gauge how much damage has been caused.

According to a Lloyd’s of London’s reports many businesses in Europe are underestimating the effects of such cyber-attacks, known as the “slow-burn” effects. This is why it is being starkly difficult for companies to gauge their losses.

The report warns them to be more fully prepared for a fall in share price, a loss of customers and other potential consequences along with the additional short-term costs such as notifying customers, paying ransoms or public relations expenses.

Not just Maersk, one of Russia’s mega oil producing company Rosneft had also had its servers infected by the virus. Another Russian company affected by it is Home Credit, a consumer lending Russian bank.

It reported that it had shut down some of its systems temporarily as investigations for the cyber-attack were underway after many of its employees were locked out of their systems with their computer screens showing a virus demanding a ransom of $300.

So far, according to an online monitoring system, 30 companies have paid the ransom to unlock their systems, which means around $90,000 have been earned by unknown attackers.

Reuters also reported that St Gobain, a France-based construction and building materials group was also affected by the cyber-attack. However, with the company gradually coming back to normalcy, a spokesperson of the group mentioned that fortunately none of its customers and the production lines experienced the outages.

Less than a month ago the WannaCry cyber-attack affected 30,000 Windows systems worldwide. The nature of the latest cyber-attack too is similar to that of WannaCry as it also targeted computer systems that use Microsoft Software by using the hacking tools of the National Security Agency.

However, NSA hasn’t accepted this claims yet and is looking into the matter, while specialists of computer security are demanding its personnel to help them defend the cyber-attack considering their tools had allegedly been used.

In April the global chief information officer of a Newark-based company, IDT, Golan Ben-Oni had already warned officials that severe cyber-attacks would hit more companies in the near future after his company was also attacked by a virus that also used NSA’s hacking tools.

“The NSA needs to take a leadership role in working closely with security and operating system platform vendors such as Apple and Microsoft to address the plague that they’ve unleashed,” Ben-Oni had said.

What’s worse was that even though Microsoft tried to patch the Windows Software to protect it from the hacking tool, Eternal Blue, the systems failed to cope under threat during WannaCry.

This shows the intensity with which new cyber-attacks are being built, calling for more productive efforts from all stakeholders. The vice president for security at Radware had called out Microsoft’s limited approach in installing the fix in its systems in March.

“Just because you roll out a patch doesn’t mean it’ll be put in place quickly,” said the VC Carl Herberger. “The more bureaucratic an organisation is, the higher chance it won’t have updated its software,” added the IT security expert.

This ransomeware cyber-attack like WannaCry may have used the same hacking tools but computer security specialists believe it is way more lethal in its nature. For instance, personal details such as customer credentials are also vulnerable this time around.

In fact, Petya – getting its name from a last year’s cyber-attack with the same name owing to its similarity – not just locks individual files but also locks and encrypts entire hard disks, increasing the intensity of damages manifold.

This is why Microsoft is trying its best to install an antivirus software that would safeguard systems against attacks of similar nature.

In a techno savvy and advance world, this kind of back to back attacks highlights the loopholes currently present in computer software providing companies along with the business using them.

These attacks almost act like a wake-up call for many conglomerates to not only install the latest security patches but also back up their data regularly.


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