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Companies, governments assess damage from latest malware

29 June 2017, 05:23 | Maryann Sutton

New cyberattack wallops Europe; spreads more slowly in US

Hackers strike across Europe, sparking widespread disruption

The attack targeted around 2,000 computers in around a dozen countries including the UK, US, France and Germany.

"The early indications are that it's exploiting multiple vulnerabilities that have been patched for years", Australian security expert Troy Hunt told Fairfax Media.

In a joint statement, CSA and SingCert said they have not received any reports on Petya ransomware infection.

Meanwhile, in the United States, it affected companies such as the drugmaker Merck and food conglomerate Mondelez International.

In Australia, a Cadbury chocolate factory was hit, a trade union official said.

"Even though it will make a machine "immune", explained computer scientist Prof Alan Woodward, "It is still a "carrier" (to use the biological analogy)".

However, businesses in the Asia-Pacific region reported some disruptions on June 28 with the operations of several European companies hit.

The virus hit the radiation-monitoring at Ukraine's shuttered Chernobyl power plant, site of the world's worst nuclear accident, forcing it into manual operation.

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A spokesperson for worldwide crime agency Europol said: "Europol is aware of multiple reports in the media regarding a developing Ransomware attack, we are liaising with cyber units in the member states and key industry partners to establish the full nature of this attack at this time". It said it had various samples in analysis to try and work out exactly how the new strain operates.

The new virus has a fake Microsoft digital signature appended to it and the attack is spreading to many countries, Costin Raiu, director of the global research and analysis team at Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab, said on Twitter. It has dubbed the new software NotPetya. Further, it is also advisable for people to keep their anti-virus software up to date. The most basic, malware gets filtered out using an antivirus program.

The WannaCry outbreak prompted many network administrators to update their security patches. As recently as last week, speed cameras in Victoria were seen to be impacted by WannaCry. Petya also gives victims an email address with which to communicate with the attackers, again unlike other ransomware attacks that specify that victims use the Tor network which anonymizes communications.

Regular consumers who have up-to-date Windows computers are safe from this attack, experts say.

Many security researchers initially linked the attack to ransomware known as Petya, which was previously advertised for sale on top-tier Russian criminal forums.

For businesses, the specific security update needed to protect against Eternal Blue is MS17-010.

He added: "Furthermore.it's unlikely the Petya ransomware is still spreading and the damage has already been done, thus a kill-switch would be futile".

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