A massive cyber attack, which began with Ukraine’s government offices and airports, appears to have spread to other countries, including India, the United Kingdom, Russia and Spain, The Independent reported. Cyber security experts believe that the virus, named Petrwrap or Petya, could be a ransomware attack, similar to the WannaCry breach in May that had affected more than three lakh people.
Ukraine’s state power distributor, Kiev’s main airport, the National Bank of Ukraine and other firms were the first to report the cyber attack, reported Reuters. “We also have a network ‘down’. This image is being displayed by all computers of the government,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Rozenko Pavlo said on Facebook.
Banking operations had come to a standstill at branches of the National Bank of Ukraine. They said they were facing difficulty servicing customers. “All financial market participants have taken steps to tighten security measures to counteract these hacker attacks,” the central bank said in a statement, according to AFP.
The computer networks were targeted the same day a high-ranking intelligence officer was assassinated in a car bombing in Kiev. The police believe it was a “terrorist attack”.
Other European countries affected
Meanwhile, several firms in Britain, including advertising agency WPP, reported the hacking. Russian oil producer Rosneft and Danish shipping company Maersk said work at their UK and Ireland offices were disrupted by the breach, BBC reported.
Food giant Mondelez was among the several companies from Spain to have reported the cyber attack. France’s St Gobain, a construction materials company, also reported similar trouble.
The WannaCry ransomware virus is a malicious software that had crippled systems worldwide and affected more than 150 countries in a cyber attack in May. It had locked data on computers it struck, which could only be released after a paying a ransom in bitcoins. The major cyber attack had targeted several nations, bringing operations at hospitals, telecommunications firms and other companies to a halt.