Ukraine min­is­ter claims they pre­vented sec­ond cy­ber­at­tack

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

Ukrainian In­te­rior Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov says that au­thor­i­ties have avoided a sec­ond cy­ber­at­tack. The an­nounce­ment sug­gests that the ef­fort to wreak elec­tronic havoc across Ukraine is on­go­ing. Ukraine is still try­ing to find its feet af­ter scores or even hun­dreds of busi­nesses and gov­ern­ment agen­cies were hit by an ex­plo­sion of data-scram­bling soft­ware on June 27.

Avakov said in a state­ment posted to his Face­book page that what he de­scribed as the sec­ond stage of that mal­ware at­tack had been timed to hit its peak at 4 p.m. Ukraine time on Tues­day. Avakov said that, like the first at­tack, Tues­day’s orig­i­nated from the Ukrainian tax firm ME Doc. Yes­ter­day’s an­nounce­ment adds clar­ity to Cy­ber­po­lice’s mid­night an­nounce­ment that they had raided M.E. Doc and seized the com­pany’s servers.

‘Un­con­trolled pro­lif­er­a­tion’

Ukraine’s na­tional cy­ber­crime unit seized servers be­long­ing to a small com­pany at the cen­ter of a global out­break of ma­li­cious soft­ware af­ter “new ac­tiv­ity” was de­tected there, the ser­vice said in a state­ment early yes­ter­day. The an­nounce­ment raised the pos­si­bil­ity that the hack­ers be­hind last week’s wide-rang­ing cy­ber­at­tack were still seek­ing to sow chaos.

Tax soft­ware firm M.E. Doc was raided to “im­me­di­ately stop the un­con­trolled pro­lif­er­a­tion” of mal­ware. In a se­ries of mes­sages, Cy­ber­po­lice spokes­woman Yu­lia Kvitko sug­gested that M.E. Doc had sent or was prepar­ing to send a new up­date and added that swift ac­tion had pre­vented any fur­ther dam­age. “Our ex­perts stopped (it) on time,” she said. It wasn’t im­me­di­ately clear how or why hack­ers might still have ac­cess to M.E. Doc’s servers.

The com­pany has been the fo­cus of in­tense at­ten­tion from au­thor­i­ties and cy­ber­se­cu­rity re­searchers since it was iden­ti­fied as the pa­tient zero of the out­break, which crip­pled com­put­ers at sev­eral multi­na­tional firms and knocked out cash ma­chines, gas sta­tions and bank branches in Ukraine. The com­pany has not re­turned mes­sages from The As­so­ci­ated Press, but in sev­eral state­ments posted to Face­book it dis­puted al­le­ga­tions that its poor se­cu­rity helped seed the mal­ware epi­demic.

Cy­ber­po­lice chief Col Ser­hiy De­my­diuk pre­vi­ously told AP that ME Doc’s own­ers would be brought to jus­tice, but Kvitko said there had been no ar­rests. Adding to the in­trigue, the bit­coin wal­let linked to the hack­ers who mas­ter­minded the out­break was emp­tied around the same time as the po­lice an­nounce­ment. Kasper­sky Lab re­searcher Aleks Gostev said on Twit­ter that some of the dig­i­tal cur­rency had been sent to text stor­age sites, hint­ing at the prospect of some kind of a forth­com­ing state­ment. Mean­while, Ukrainian of­fi­cials were just be­gin­ning to count the costs of the out­break. In­fra­struc­ture Min­is­ter Volodymyr Omelyan told AP his de­part­ment had in­curred “mil­lions” in costs, with hun­dreds of work­sta­tions and two of its six servers knocked out. Ukrainian of­fi­cials have yet to put a dol­lar amount on the to­tal dam­age or even es­ti­mate its scope. —Agen­cies

KIEV, UKRAINE: Air­port em­ploy­ees use a lap­top com­puter at Bo­ryspil air­port. A new and highly vir­u­lent out­break of ma­li­cious data-scram­bling soft­ware ap­pears to be caus­ing mass dis­rup­tion across Europe —AP

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