Cy­ber­at­tack hits cor­po­rates

Property arm of France’s big­gest bank, BNP Paribas, among the tar­gets

The Star Early Edition - - INTERNATIONAL - Maya Niko­laeva

A GLOBAL cy­ber­at­tack has hit the property arm of France’s big­gest bank, BNP Paribas, one of the largest fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions known to be af­fected by an ex­tor­tion cam­paign that started in Rus­sia and Ukraine.

The world­wide at­tack has dis­rupted com­put­ers at Rus­sia’s big­gest oil com­pany, Ukrainian banks and multi­na­tional firms with a virus sim­i­lar to the ran­somware that in­fected more than 300 000 com­put­ers last month.

The at­tack hit BNP’s Real Es­tate sub­sidiary, a BNP Paribas spokes­woman told Reuters, af­ter a source fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter had said that the com­put­ers of some staff were blocked on Tues­day be­cause of the in­ci­dent.

“The nec­es­sary mea­sures have been taken to rapidly con­tain the at­tack,” she said.

BNP Paribas Real Es­tate pro­vides ad­vi­sory, property and in­vest­ment man­age­ment and de­vel­op­ment ser­vices, mostly in Europe. It em­ployed 3 472 staff at the end of last year, with op­er­a­tions in 16 coun­tries, and had €24 bil­lion (R354bn) in as­sets un­der man­age­ment.

Ukraine link

Many of the com­pa­nies af­fected glob­ally by the cy­ber at­tack have links to Ukraine, although there is no in­di­ca­tion that this was the case for BNP. It owns a bank in the coun­try.

France’s fi­nan­cial sec­tor reg­u­la­tor, ACPR, re­mained vig­i­lant, but there were no alerts con­cern­ing the banks it su­per­vised, it said in a state­ment.

Among BNP’s peers, France’s So­ciété Générale told Reuters this week it was not af­fected by the at­tack. Credit Agri­cole and BPCE both de­clined to com­ment.

Re­ver­ber­a­tions from the at­tack con­tin­ued yes­ter­day, with ship­ping gi­ant AP MollerMaersk, which han­dles one in seven con­tain­ers shipped world­wide, telling Reuters it was un­able to process new or­ders af­ter be­ing hit by the cy­ber­at­tack.

Among other French com­pa­nies, re­tailer Auchan said Tues­day’s cy­ber­at­tack had hit ter­mi­nal pay­ments in its stores in Ukraine, but the in­ci­dent was now over.

French con­struc­tion and build­ing ma­te­ri­als group St Gobain said its sys­tems were grad­u­ally re­turn­ing to nor­mal af­ter the com­pany fell vic­tim to the cy­ber­at­tack.

The ran­somware virus in­cludes code known as “Eter­nal Blue”, which cy­ber­se­cu­rity ex­perts widely be­lieved was stolen from the US Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency. If one com­puter in a net­work is in­fected, the virus can spread rapidly. The virus crip­pled com­put­ers run­ning Win­dows by en­crypt­ing hard drives and over­writ­ing files, then de­manded $300 (R3 906) in bit­coin pay­ments to re­store ac­cess.

PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Jean-Lau­rent Bon­nafe is the chief ex­ec­u­tive of BNP Paribas. The bank’s real es­tate sub­sidiary, which has op­er­a­tions in 16 coun­tries, was one of the com­pa­nies af­fected by a global cy­ber at­tack.

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