Firms work to re­pel ransomware

Petya mal­ware is a next-gen­er­a­tion worm, but pre­ven­tive moves al­ready un­der way

The National - News - Business - - Front Page - LeAnne Graves lgraves@then­ationa.ae

Com­pa­nies based in the UAE af­fected by the lat­est cy­ber at­tacks are work­ing to by­pass any dis­rup­tion as busi­nesses around the world rush to pro­tect them­selves against the next gen­er­a­tion of ransomware.

Petya be­gan strik­ing com­pa­nies in Ukraine on Tues­day, spread­ing around the globe, with crim­i­nals de­mand­ing US$300 in crypto-cur­rency Bit­coin to re­lease the data they had hacked.

The list of cor­po­rate vic­tims con­tin­ued to mount yes­ter­day with ma­jor names hit, such as the world’s largest com­mu­ni­ca­tions firm, WPP.

The com­pany has 3,000 of­fices in 113 coun­tries, in­clud­ing the UAE, and a num­ber of its units have been af­fected.

“Our op­er­a­tions have not been uni­formly af­fected and is­sues are be­ing ad­dressed on a com­pany-by-com­pany ba­sis,” said Chris Wade, WPP’s head of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for Europe, Mid­dle East and Africa.

The com­pany did not give de­tails about what ar­eas had been af­fected by the ransomware, only say­ing that many busi­nesses were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing “no or min­i­mal dis­rup­tion”.

“Hav­ing taken steps to con­tain the at­tack, the pri­or­ity now is to re­turn to nor­mal op­er­a­tions as soon as pos­si­ble, while pro­tect­ing our sys­tems,” Mr Wade said.

Den­mark’s AP Moller-Maersk, one of the world’s largest ship­pers, said on its web­site that while it had been hit by the ransomware, it had con­tained the is­sue and was work­ing on a re­cov­ery plan. Its ter­mi­nal near Mum­bai, In­dia’s big­gest con­tainer port, was forced to clear cargo man­u­ally, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg.

Maersk’s freight for­ward­ing com­pany had lim­ited ac­cess to cer­tain sys­tems while APM Ter­mi­nals, the port and ter­mi­nal op­er­a­tor, had sev­eral ports hit. “We have shut down a num­ber of sys­tems to help con­tain the is­sue,” Maersk said, adding that it was work­ing with var­i­ous IT part­ners and global cy­ber-se­cu­rity agen­cies.

This has moved ship­ping and port author­i­ties in the UAE to counter any incoming threats. DP World said that its busi­ness had not been dis­rupted by Petya. “We are tak­ing pre­ven­tive mea­sures to pro­tect our IT sys­tems and we re­main vig­i­lant to this threat,” said a DP World spokesman. The law firm DLA Piper took down its sys­tems as a “pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure”, mean­ing clients could not con­tact its team by email or land­line, ac­cord­ing to its web­site. France’s Cie de Saint-Gobain, Cad­bury choco­late’s par­ent Mon­delez, and drug maker Merck were all also hit. Ransomware has quickly evolved and grown from ini­tially tar­get­ing just in­di­vid­u­als, ac­cord­ing to McAfee, a com­puter-soft­ware com­pany.

Petya’s pre­cur­sor, Wan­naCry, made less than $100,000, but re­sulted in more than 200,000 in­fec­tions world­wide this year.

Wan­naCry es­ca­lated mal­ware by in­tro­duc­ing a worm-based com­pro­mise of sys­tems that ex­ploited a vul­ner­a­bil­ity in Mi­crosoft Windows.

Steve Grob­man, chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer at McAfee, said that the unique com­po­nent of Petya is that it builds on Wan­naCry’s tech­nique while adding a new el­e­ment that al­lows non-vul­ner­a­ble ma­chines to also be­come in­fected.

“It does this by steal­ing cre­den­tials from ma­chines that it in­fects, which al­lows the stolen cre­den­tials to be used to in­fect fully patched ma­chines,” he said.

“This hy­brid ap­proach dras­ti­cally am­pli­fies the im­pact and scale of at­tack.”

The risk from ransomware is grow­ing as the world be­comes more dig­i­tal.

The US Fed­eral Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion in­ter­net crimes divi­sion brack­eted this type of at­tack with other cy­ber crimes un­til 2015 when more than 1,400 Amer­i­cans lost a to­tal of about $500,000.

Last year, the num­ber of vic­tims in­creased to nearly 2,500 los­ing a to­tal of $1.6 mil­lion.

The pri­or­ity now is to re­turn to nor­mal op­er­a­tions as soon as pos­si­ble, while pro­tect­ing our sys­tems Chris Wade Head of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for EMEA at WPP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.