A major global cyber-attack dubbed “GoldenEye” or “Petya” caused mass disruption in Europe on Tuesday, hitting multinational firms and some government agencies.
The first attacks were reported from Russia and Ukraine, with experts suspecting a virus similar to the ransomware that last month infected more than 300,000 computers, Reuters reports.
Russian state oil giant Rosneft said its systems suffered “serious consequences”, forcing it to switch over to backup facilities.
In Ukraine, he government’s computer network went down and the central bank reported disruption to operations at banks and firms including the state power distributor.
Operations at the Kiev airport were paralyzed by the hack.
The attack also affected the operations of Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk and London-headquartered global advertising agency WPP, among other multinational firms.
The ransomware virus crippled computers running Microsoft’s Windows by encrypting hard drives and overwriting files, then demanded US$300 in bitcoin payments to restore access.
Microsoft said the virus could spread through a flaw that was patched in a security update in March.
“We are continuing to investigate and will take appropriate action to protect customers,” Reuters quoted a company spokesman as saying.
Some 2,000 attacks were observed as of midday in New York on Tuesday, according to Kaspersky Lab.
Russia and Ukraine were most affected, with other victims spread across countries including Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and the United States, the security software maker said.
Security experts expect the impact to be smaller than the “WannaCry” attack last month, as many computers had been patched with Windows updates.
Still, the rapidly spreading cyber extortion campaign underscored growing threats from increasingly aggressive hackers, who have shown they are capable of shutting down critical infrastructure and crippling corporate and government networks, Reuters noted.
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