The new Petya cyber outbreak in Ukraine and Russia has disturbed the world. Hospitals, government offices and global multinational giants have topped the target list of the ransomware. The attack, which sprouted in Ukraine, is slowly infecting other countries.
According to Ukrainian infrastructure minister Volodymyr Omelyan, “In Ukraine, victims included top-level government offices, where officials posted photos of darkened computer screens, as well as energy companies, banks, cash machines, gas stations, and supermarkets. Ukrainian railways and the communications company Ukrtelecom were among major enterprises hit by Petya ransomware.”
Petya is a malware that captures computer files with an encryption that is nearly impossible to crack. Then, a ransom is demanded in return for the release. The radiation monitoring systems at Chernobyl nuclear plant site were also shut down owing to its paralysing effect.
In the United States, the drugmaker Merck and Mondelez International became victims of the attack. Even two hospitals in Western Peninsula were not spared. A woman at one of Ohio’s hospitals was reported describing the chaos that erupted after the attack – computer monitors turned off and nurses hastened with manual paperwork.
The origin of the ransomware attack is unknown. However, researchers suspect evidence that its originators have exploited the National Security Agency (NSA) code. An online report said, “Basically, the NSA has created something which can be used as a weapon, which has now been stolen and used.”
Bitdefender and Kaspersky believe, EternalBlue, a NSA exploit allows the virus to spread across organisations’ internal networks, causing irrevocable damage. Ukraine’s cyber police tweeted, “Once activated, the virus can automatically and freely distribute itself on your network.”
Victor Zhora, the chief executive officer of Infosafe IT in Kiev said, “The virus is spreading all over Europe and I’m afraid it can harm the whole world.”