Im­porters fac­ing ran­somware holdups

Marlborough Express - - BUSINESS - MADI­SON REIDY AND TOM PULLAR-STRECKER

Dan­ish ship­ping com­pany MollerMaersk’s New Zealand arm has bro­ken si­lence as its phone sys­tems re­store amidst the fall­out of a global cy­ber at­tack slow­ing im­port op­er­a­tions.

Maersk Aus­tralia and New Zealand man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Ger­ard Mor­ri­son said yes­ter­day af­ter­noon that its phone and email sys­tems had been de­lib­er­ately shut down by the com­pany to stop the spread­ing of the mal­ware virus, dubbed NotPetya, that hacked its com­put­ers in Europe on Tues­day night.

All of its sys­tems ex­cept its phone lines re­mained down, re­lay­ing an ‘‘enor­mous’’ im­pact to ports across the globe, he said.

Mor­ri­son said Maersk’s New Zealand staff had been keep­ing op­er­a­tions go­ing man­u­ally, us­ing Mi­crosoft Ex­cel spread­sheets and hand writ­ten in­for­ma­tion to tell Port of Auck­land and Port of Tauranga what to do with the cargo that needed to be un­loaded off its ships.

This had slowed the ar­rival of im­ports but it was too early to tell how long the de­lay would be for busi­nesses to re­ceive their in­com­ing goods, he said.

Mor­ri­son said staff at its Auck­land of­fice were over­whelmed with sup­port from hun­dreds of its nearby clients that of­fered phone lines, in­ter­net con­nec­tions and of­fice space.

Port of Tauranga (POT) said late yes­ter­day morn­ing that it cur­rently had one Maersk ship docked but it faced no is­sues or de­lays in un­load­ing.

POT com­mer­cial man­ager Leonard Samp­son said it was ‘‘busi­ness as usual’’ at the site as it con­tin­ued to com­mu­ni­cate with Maersk through an ‘‘al­ter­na­tive method’’, pos­si­bly an ex­ter­nal Gmail ac­count set up by Maersk to speak with its clients.

Ports of Auck­land (POA) spokesman Matt Ball said the first Maersk ship since the cy­ber at­tack is due to ar­rive at the port on Fri­day.

Ball said its port op­er­a­tions were al­ready suf­fer­ing the fall­out from Maersk’s IT sys­tems shut­ting down be­cause most of its mutual in­for­ma­tion was shared dig­i­tally.

POA con­firmed on Wed­nes­day that it was re­ceiv­ing in­for­ma­tion about the im­ported cargo from Maersk man­u­ally through a Gmail ac­count.

‘‘Maersk have no means of re­ceiv­ing load lists, dis­charge lists, or in­struc­tions for cargo re­lease. They have even closed down their email servers and are com­mu­ni­cat­ing via Gmail.’’

Multi­na­tional freight com­pany Main­freight also said its ex­port and im­port op­er­a­tions in New Zealand had been af­fected.

Main­freight man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Don Braid said that it was one of hun­dreds of com­pa­nies suf­fer­ing from the com­mu­ni­ca­tion is­sue.

A state­ment re­leased by Main­freight on Wed­nes­day said it could not book cargo with Maersk nor re­trieve or ex­port freight on ves­sels that were op­er­ated by APM Ter­mi­nals, a sub­sidiary of Maersk.

Braid said: ‘‘The big is­sue will be when the ships come into the ports.’’

Maersk’s Mor­ri­son said it was now able to ac­cept some cargo book­ings through plat­form INTTRA but was work­ing on cre­at­ing a man­ual book­ing process that would be avail­able to New Zealand clients this morn­ing.

David Ross, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ko­tahi Lo­gis­tics, which man­ages ship­ping lo­gis­tics for Fon­terra, said yes­ter­day af­ter­noon that it was pleased with Maersk’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion ef­forts and ex­pected ‘‘min­i­mal dis­rup­tion’’ to its cargo flow.

Ki­wirail spokes­woman Sarah Stu­art said yes­ter­day morn­ing that its op­er­a­tions had not been af­fected de­spite hav­ing Maersk as a client.

Courier com­pany TNT Ex­press said in a state­ment yes­ter­day that its mail ser­vices would be de­layed but when con­tacted it could not say how that would af­fect New Zea- lan­ders await­ing de­liv­er­ies.

The FedEx sub­sidiary, which op­er­ates in New Zealand, said in a state­ment re­leased late yes­ter­day morn­ing: ‘‘Like many other com­pa­nies and in­sti­tu­tions around the world, we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in­ter­fer­ence with some of our sys­tems within the TNT net­work.’’

The cy­ber at­tack has led to con­ges­tion at some of the 76 ports run by its APM Ter­mi­nals unit, in­clud­ing in the United States, In­dia, Spain and the Nether­lands as well

PHO­TOS: FAIR­FAX NZ, REUTERS

The lat­est ran­somware at­tack has af­fected Maersk ship­ping and the Cadbury fac­tory and hit sys­tems as far away as Ch­er­nobyl in Ukraine, where the virus is thought to have orig­i­nated.

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