Massive Cyber Attack Leaves Companies Scrambling to Restart Businesses
By David E. Hubler
Contributor, In Homeland Security
A major cyber attack that caused havoc around the world on Tuesday appears to be under control in Ukraine, where the attack likely originated, the Associated Press said Wednesday.
In a statement published by AP, the Ukrainian Cabinet said that “all strategic assets, including those involved in protecting state security, are working normally.”
The statement from Kiev coincided with the re-emergence of the mysterious Shadow Brokers group of hackers. AP reported that Shadow Brokers’ leak of powerful NSA tools helped power Tuesday’s outbreak, as it did a previous ransomware explosion last month that was dubbed “WannaCry.”
In a post published Wednesday, the Shadow Brokers made new threats, announced a new money-making scheme and made references to what happened Tuesday.
“Another global cyber attack is fitting end for first month of theshadowbrokers [correct] dump service,” the group said, referring to a subscription service which purportedly offers hackers early access to even more of the NSA’s digital break-in tools.
Cyber Attack: Numerous Business Sectors Affected
Meanwhile, companies and governments around the world are scrambling to regain control of their computer systems while measuring the cost of the crisis that has disrupting factories, ports and hospitals.
The widespread attack crippled computers and halted operations at Danish port operator Maersk, a Cadbury chocolate plant in Australia and the property arm of French bank BNP Paribas, among others, Reuters news agency reports.
Russia’s biggest oil company, Ukrainian banks and multinational firms were also among those hit by the cyber extortion campaign, according to Reuters.
One of the terminals at India’s largest container port, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Mumbai, was also idled by the malicious software.
In Pennsylvania, lab and diagnostic services were closed at the satellite offices of Pennsylvania’s Heritage Valley Health System, for example.
Other organizations affected include U.S. drugmaker Merck, food and drinks company Mondelez International, global law firm DLA Piper, and London-based advertising group WPP, the AP reported.
The rapidly spreading computer worm appeared to be a variant of an existing ransomware family known as Petya or ExPetr, which also includes key features from last month’s ransomware “WannaCry” attack.
ESET, an anti-virus vendor based in the Slovak capital of Bratislava, said 80 percent of all infections from the new attack detected among its global customer base were in Ukraine, where several international firms were attacked. Italy was the second hardest hit at around 10 percent.
The Shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk has a logistics unit in Ukraine. “Right now, at this hour, we’re not able to take new orders,” Maersk Line Chief Commercial Officer Vincent Clerc said in a telephone interview with Reuters on Wednesday morning.
BNP Paribas Real Estate, which provides property and investment management services, confirmed it had been hit, but declined to specify how widely it has affected its business. BNP Paribas Real Estate employed nearly 3,500 staff in 16 countries in 2016.
Russia’s Rosneft, one of the world’s biggest crude producers by volume, acknowledged that its systems had suffered “serious consequences,” but said oil production had not been affected because it switched over to backup systems.
Tuesday’s cyber attack caused no serious problems at a corporate or state level in Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a news conference in Moscow. Such cyber attacks underline the need for a concerted international action to fight cyber crime, Peskov said.
About the Author
David E. Hubler brings a variety of government, journalism and teaching experience to his position as a Quality Assurance Editor at APUS. David’s professional background includes serving as a senior editor at CIA and the Voice of America. He has also been a managing editor for several business-to-business and business-to-government publishing companies. David has taught high school English in Connecticut and at Northern Virginia Community College. He has a master’s degree for Teachers of English from the University of New Hampshire and a B.A. in English from New York University. David’s 2015 book, “The Nats and the Grays, How Baseball in the Nation’s Capital Survived WWII and Changed the Game Forever,” was recently published in paperback by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.