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29 June 2017, 05:24 | Vickie Mathis
New cyberattack wallops Europe; spreads more slowly in US
Banks as well as retail businesses across the world are concentrating their defenses against the new wave of cyber thefts and attacks, safeguarding themselves and their clients' sensitive data such as their credit card details.
According to Russian cybersecurity company Group-IB, Petya is similar to the WannaCry virus, responsible for last month's attack that paralysed computers and demanded a payment of $300 in bitcoins for a machine to be unblocked.
Several security experts questioned whether the effort to extort victims with computers hit by the virus was the main goal, or whether the unknown hackers behind the attack could have other motives.
Though the "vaccine" protects individual computers on which the "perfc" file is placed, cybersecurity researchers have not yet found a so-called "kill switch" that would prevent the ransomware from infecting other computers.
A new ransomware attack similar to the WannaCry malware released last month was launched Tuesday, targeted first at governmental networks in Ukraine and Russia and then spread quickly to companies including Russian oil giant Rosneft and United Kingdom advertising firm WPP.
But for those concerned about the attack there appears to be fix, albeit one with limited effectiveness. Kaspersky Labstold Bloomberg News that as many as 2,000 targets in North America had been hit.
Officials said the Kenilworth, New Jersey-based company was investigating the incident but provided no further details.
However, no one has any clue regarding the perpetrators of the attack till date. But as the story of an IT worker in Scotland shows, Petya can still sometimes find a way into those machines, by collecting passwords and credentials from an unpatched computer and using them to log into patched machines. Furthermore, it can spread to other PCs on the network.
Hospitals in Pennsylvania were being forced to cancel operations after the attack hit computers at Heritage Valley Health Systems, a Pennsylvania health care provider, and its hospitals in Beaver and Sewickley, Penn., and satellite locations across the state.
So how did it spread? In addition, Russian energy giant Rosneft said on Twitter that it was facing a "powerful hacker attack". But the company denied its software spread the infection, saying in a Facebookpost that an update sent out last week was free of viruses.
As reported on Tuesday, the method by which victims can pay the ransom fee has been rendered useless.
At the time of writing, the wallet contains approximately $8,000-worth of Bitcoin, not a large return for such a significant and widespread attack. Security experts do not recommend paying criminals a ransom, and their contact email address has already been suspended.
Johnson: What is concerning about the scale of the attack and where it might be coming from?
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