Vaccine found against 'Petya' cyber attack

Chernobyl n-plant

Globally, ransomware has crippled several computers shutting down critical infrastructure, corporate and government networks.

"WannaCry was a tremendous failure".

A colossal cyberattack on Tuesday has been wreaking havoc on countries and corporations across the globe, and some cybersecurity experts are zeroing in on a familiar name as the possible culprit.

A number of Ukrainian banks and companies, including the state power distributor, were hit by a cyber attack that disrupted some operations, the Ukrainian central bank said.

Still, the attack could be more unsafe than traditional strains of ransomware because it makes computers unresponsive and unable to reboot, Juniper Networks said in a blog post analysing the attack. Like a typical ransomware attack, the attackers demand that the victims pay to receive the decryption key or to otherwise recover access to the compromised machine.

Researchers said the ransomware virus is a worm that infects networks by moving from computer to computer.

At the centre of these ransomware outbreaks is a Microsoft Windows security vulnerability called EternalBlue. Microsoft released a patch for the flaw in March, but not all companies have used it.

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The computer virus used in the attack includes code known as Eternal Blue, a tool developed by the NSA that exploited Microsoft's Windows operating system and which was published on the internet in April by a group called Shadowbrokers.

Hong Kong's Computer Security Incident Coordination Centre said it had not received any reports of local victims by last night.

"Users should perform file backups and store them offline in case they need to restore their systems following an attack", it added.

Researchers are still figuring out exactly what happened.

Russia's top oil producer Rosneft (ROSN.MM) said its servers had been hit been a large-scale cyber attack but its oil production was unaffected.

Top global businesses headquartered in Europe and the USA have come under attack.

Ukrainian organizations took a particularly heavy blow.

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The rapidly spreading cyberextortion campaign, which began on Tuesday, also reportedly hit businesses in the Asia-Pacific region on Wednesday.

India-based employees at Beiersdorf, makers of Nivea skincare products, and Reckitt Benckiser, which owns Enfamil and Lysol, said the ransomware attack had affected some of their systems.

Petya has characteristics similar to the faster and more disruptive Wannacry virus that infected 300,000 computers last month. "It's like WannaCry all over again", said F-Secure Chief Research Officer Mikko Hypponen. "Sophos Intercept X customers were proactively protected with no data encrypted, from the moment this new ransomware variant appeared".

How is this different from WannaCry? Both Petya and WannaCry exploit the EternalBlue vulnerability in Windows XP and other Microsoft Windows systems to carry out the attack.

Unlike WannaCry, it locks down a computer's entire hard drive instead of just the files.

"The latest advances in AI mean that smart technology can now detect and fight back against any in-progress attacks within a company network, buying the security teams time to respond".

Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team (SingCert) said on its website that it was alerted to the global spread of NotPetya, which is inspired by WannaCry, and described it as "more risky and intrusive" than WannaCry.

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