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European Cyberattack Spreads to U.S.

Cyber criminals and cyberattacks are nothing new. They’ve been around since the beginning of the Internet, and they’re only growing more sophisticated with age. Despite the fact that top security experts are constantly working to strengthen systems around the world, nobody is fully protected. A new cyberattack, which originally launched in Europe in mid-2017 and has recently spread to the United States, is just one of the latest examples of how widespread the problem is becoming.

Targeting the Ukraine

Although the original cyberattacks involved a number of incidents across Europe, Ukraine seems to have been the primary target. Reports of hackers gaining access to banks, governmental facilities and even the country’s power grid have all been confirmed.

Several companies reported ransomware attacks, too. A.P. Moller-Maersk; a Danish shipping company, and Rosneft; a Russian oil company. Security experts are blaming these attacks on a malicious program that is similar to the GoldenEye hack.

An official statement from Rosneft read, in part: “The hacking attack could have led to serious consequences but neither the oil production nor the processing has been affected thanks to the fact that the company has switched to a reserve control system.”

Spreading Across the Globe

But the attack wasn’t confined to the Ukraine or Europe. It wasn’t long before at least one U.S. company, Merck, reported attacks on their own systems.

Merck released a Tweet stating: “We confirm our company’s computer network was compromised today as part of global hack. Other organizations have also been affected.”

When asked about the scale of the problem, experts with Kaspersky Lab said they’ve collected data on approximately 2,000 separate attacks that are all traceable to same campaign. The majority of incidents have occurred in Ukraine, Poland and Russia.

Origins from the National Security Agency

The malicious program in question is called either Petrwrap or Petya, depending on the specific attack. Interestingly enough, this exploit was originally developed by the National Security Agency for their own purposes. This, along with at least one other program, was eventually leaked online and made their way into the hands of hackers.

Mark Graff, chief executive with cybersecurity firm Tellagraff, pointed out the recent uptick of cyberattacks like this one by saying: “The emergence of Petya and WannaCry really points out the need for a response plan and a policy on what companies are going to do about ransomware. WannaCry was the ransomware used in the May attack. You won’t want to make that decision at a time of panic, in a cloud of emotion.”

Remaining Diligent in the Future

Although the May attacks Graff alluded to have been attributed to North Korean hackers, there is no word on the perpetrators of the latest event. Cybersecurity experts are quick to point out that the increased threats posed by hackers may be impossible to control. However, it’s crucial that all computer users, from the average consumer to the topmost security professional, maintains diligence when moving forward and trying to prevent such problems in the future.


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