New ransomware attack wreaking havoc across the world

Posted June 29, 2017

The food giant Mondelez, legal firm DLA Piper, Danish shipping and transport giant AP Moller-Maersk and Heritage Valley Health System, which runs hospitals and care facilities in Pittsburgh, also said their systems had been hit by the malware.

Cyber security experts believe that those behind the attack used the same type of hacking tool used in the WannaCry ransomware attack that affected more than 150 countries in May.

Experts are still unsure about the attack's origins or its real goal. A security researcher at Cybereason has discovered that creating a file called "perfc", making it read-only, and saving it in the computer's "C:\Windows" folder is enough to deactivate the malware, so that it does not start encrypting important files.

The new Petya ransomware spreads from one infected computer to others on its network, even if those computers have been updated.

MOSCOW/KIEV Russia's top oil producer Rosneft said a large-scale cyber attack hit its servers on Tuesday and computer systems at some banks and the main airport in neighbouring Ukraine were also disrupted.

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Still, the attack could be more unsafe than traditional strains of ransomware because it makes computers unresponsive and unable to reboot, Juniper Networks said in a blog post analysing the attack.

"A massive ransomware campaign is now unfolding worldwide", said Romanian cybersecurity company Bitdefender, where analyst Bogdan Botezatu said that it appeared to be almost identical to GoldenEye, one of a family of hostage- taking programs that has been circulating for months. It is also incredibly vulnerable to electronic attack from tech-savvy perpetrators with a significant amount of malice.

The complexity of the attack has fueled debate over whether the malware is a new threat or a more sophisticated version of the Petya malware that was used in an attack last spring.

Unlike the WannaCry malware, which has been around for awhile and exploited the Windows operating system, the latest outbreak appears to be carried out by a new and more risky malware. "With this one, it's a lot more complicated", Gavin Millard, technical director at Tenable Network Security, a US-based cyber-security company specialising in spotting vulnerabilities in networks, told Al Jazeera.

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So how did it spread? Maersk said its sites were down across "multiple sites and businesses due to a cyberattack;" Rosnoft said it faced a "powerful hacker attack".

A spokesman for the company said that " They are continuing to investigate and take appropriate action to protect their customers".

MeDoc initially posted an update to its website on Tuesday saying, in Russian, "Attention!"

As reported on Tuesday, the method by which victims can pay the ransom fee has been rendered useless. In this instance, hackers are asking for $300 worth of Bitcoin. However, that email address has been shut down by the email provider.

These factors contribute to a now-prevailing theory that this was a politically motivated attack on Ukraine, coming as it did just as the country is set to celebrate its Constitution Day. The most basic, malware gets filtered out using an antivirus program.

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