'Petya' cyberattack: what we know about the latest global ransomware strike

Hackers strike across Europe, sparking widespread disruption

The "Petya" cyberattack that has now struck computers in at least 65 countries can be traced to a Ukrainian company's tax accounting software, Microsoft says.

"Because it blocks boot efforts and prevents affected systems from working altogether, it's considered more unsafe than typical ransomware strains", Sophos writes in its Naked Security blog.

In Ukraine, Yevhen Dykhne, director of Boryspyl Airport, said it had been hit by a cyber attack.

The ransomware demands a $300 bitcoin payment to retrieve encrypted files and hard drives.

The payment method via an email address that was quickly shut down, is considered amateurish and led to speculation that the virus' goal was not monetary gain, but rather to simply cause damage.

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Dutch shipping and energy company Maersk similarly reported a cyberattack Tuesday, as did Russia's Rosnoft bank. In Kiev, government workers at the old Chernobyl nuclear plant were forced to manually check radiation readings when their computers stopped working.

Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk said it was among the victims, reporting outages at facilities including its Los Angeles terminal. Several companies that reported problems Tuesday were still grappling with the attack on Wednesday. Ben-Oni also warned that if appropriate steps are not taken to curb the menace there could be incident of more attacks in the future.

Moscow-based cyber security firm Group IB said hackers had exploited code developed by the US National Security Agency (NSA) which was leaked and then used in the WannaCry ransomware attack that caused global disruption in May.

Ukrainian officials confirmed a possible link to MeDoc. However, the use of the email is leading cyber-experts to believe that this was not a very planned attack.

APM Terminals, owned by Maersk, is experiencing system issues at multiple terminals, including the Port of NY and New Jersey, the largest port on the US East Coast, and Rotterdam in The Netherlands, Europe's largest harbour.

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There are also reports that a ransomware called "Petya" is ravaging a number of countries throughout Europe, but it's as of now unclear if the "unknown virus" reported to be affecting the Ukrainian and Russian companies is the same one.

However security analysts at Kaspersky Lab said they had traced the infections to "a new ransomware that has not been seen before", dubbing "NotPetya".

Law enforcement and cybersecurity experts agree that victims should never pay ransoms for such attacks.

Analysts at several cybersecurity firms have confirmed that the Petya assault utilized a powerful and unsafe cyberweapon reated by the National Security Agency that was leaked in April by the hacker group Shadow Brokers. "The Department of Homeland Security is monitoring reports of cyberattacks affecting multiple global entities and is coordinating with our worldwide and domestic cyber partners, " Scott McConnell, a department spokesman, said in a statement.

What should a person do if he/she gets affected by the ransomware?

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