Published: Wed, June 28, 2017
Science | By Hubert Green

Chernobyl is hit as cyber hack spreads global chaos

Tech experts say Petya, the new ransomware cyber attack, has the potential to be more severe than the WannaCry Virus we reported on last month.

A number of companies and agencies across Europe reported that they were under cyberattack on Tuesday, including Russian oil and gas company Rosneft and Danish shipping firm Maersk.

"This morning the National Bank of Ukraine has warned banks and other financial market participants about an external hacker attack on the websites of some Ukrainian banks, as well as commercial and public enterprises", the statement read. The malware also hit A.P. Moller-Maersk, a Danish shipping company, as well as British advertising agency WPP, plus USA pharmaceutical company Merck and Co., among others, according to the Reuters account.

Affected users have been blocked from accessing their computer's files or hard drives, and told to pay a ransom in bitcoin to a designated account. The malicious software spreads rapidly across an organization once a computer is infected using the EternalBlue vulnerability in Microsoft Windows (Microsoft has released a patch, but not everyone will have installed it) or through two Windows administrative tools.

However global cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab said they thought it was not a variant of Petya ransomware "but a new ransomware that has not been seen before".

Remember last month when the WannaCry ransomware attack spread throughout the world, targeting certain Windows operating systems?

The latest cyber attack exacerbates concerns that businesses have not taken adequate security measures to protect themselves from hackers are capable of shutting down essential infrastructure and crippling corporate and government networks. There's a new ransomware attack happening now that uses the same exploit as WannaCry, and it's possibly even stronger than the previous attack. "Unfortunately, businesses are still not ready and now more than 80 companies are affected", said Nikolay Grebennikov, vice president for R&D at data protection firm Acronis. "Perhaps you are busy looking for a way to recover your files, but don't waste your time". "The building has come to a standstill. Nobody can recover your files without our decryption service".

Chernobyl's radiation monitoring system is among the most serious digital networks affected.

Anton Geashchencko, an aide to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said on Facebook the government's computer network had collapsed.

Department of Homeland Security spokesman Scott McConnell refused to explain if United States firms or infrastructure have been affected by the cyberattacks, but he said that the government is in communication with its worldwide partners and is ready to provide help to anyone who requests it, Efe news reported. The emails had contained infected Word documents or PDF files as attachments.

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