Companies worldwide have been struck by a severe ransomware attack.
The virus emerged in Ukraine as Ukrainian firms which consisted of the country’s state power company and the Kiev airport were among the first to report of the attack.
The virus causes the user’s computer to freeze and then demands an untraceable ransom in the form of Bitcoins.
Even the Chernobyl nuclear plants were impacted as they were forced to monitor the radiation levels manually because the virus had caused its Windows-based sensors to switch off.
The British-based advertising agency WPP also claims to have been affected by the virus.
Security forces across the world are collaborating to bring the culprits to justice. The US National Security Council has confirmed that government agencies were actively investigating the attacks, saying that the US was “determined to hold those responsible accountable”.
Victims have been advised not to pay the ransom firstly because there is no guarantee that the affected files will be restored and secondly it may encourage others to follow suit and spread the virus even further.
According to the Russian Kaspersky Lab, there have been over 2000 attacks so far. Ukraine, Russia, and Poland are among those that are most impacted by the ransom-ware.
The severity of the attack has even gotten Interpol involved. Interpol has stated that it is monitoring the attacks very closely and is collaborating with other member countries.
Tech experts claim that the ransomware is attempting to cash on the same vulnerabilities that were exposed by the WannaCry Attack last month.
Experts also say that the malware resembles the virus Petya which was used in cyber-attacks last year. The Kaspersky Lab, however, believes that the virus is different to Petya despite having a resemblance to it and so the lab has been referring to the virus as NotPetya. Kaspersky has reported attacks on other countries including Italy, Germany, France, the US and the UK, however, Ukraine, Russia, and Poland seemed to be the primary victims.
Ukraine particularly has been hit badly by the virus. The Kiev Metro system has apparently is no longer accepting payment through credit cards. Several petrol stations were also forced to suspend their operations temporarily. Ukraine’s government system too had been impacted by the cyber-attack.
Spokespersons from renowned security firms have claimed that we should expect such attacks to continue and will be difficult to bring to a halt as attackers have proven it to be an effective way of collecting large sums of money. Companies provide attackers with incentives by giving them massive payouts.
Cyber-extortionists were able to get a huge payout of $1m from a South-Korean firm in return of their files. Despite the authorities advising against it, the Bitcoin account associated with this latest cyber-attack has also received several payouts. The account currently has around $8,700 worth of payouts. If vulnerabilities in IT systems are not addressed and cyber crimes such as this consistently prove to be lucrative then we should expect such attacks to become more prominent in the near future.