Ukraine’s government, banks and electricity grid hit hardest by cyber-attack, but companies from Saint-Gobain in France to Rosneft in Russia also affected.
A major cyber-attack has struck large companies across Europe, with Ukraine’s government, banks, state electricity grid, telephone companies and even metro particularly badly affected.
The attack has caused serious disruption at companies including advertising multinational WPP, France’s Saint-Gobain, Russian steel, mining and oil firms Evraz and Rosneft, and the Danish shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk.
“We are talking about a cyber-attack,” Anders Rosendahl, a spokesman for the Copenhagen-based shipping group, told the Associated Press. “It has affected all branches of our business, at home and abroad.”
Seventeen shipping container terminals run by a Maersk subsidiary, APM Terminals, in the Netherlands and elsewhere around the world were also affected, the company said.
The Ukrainian deputy prime minister, Pavlo Rozenko, tweeted a picture of a darkened computer screen, saying the government’s entire computer system had been shut down.
Experts said the attack seemed consistent with ransomware described as a variant of a virus known as Petya or Petrwrap.
An attack by WannaCry or WannaCrypt ransomware last month affected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries, with the UK’s national health service, Spanish phone giant Telefónica and German state railways among those hardest hit.
The disruptions in Ukraine follow a rash of hacking attempts on state websites in late 2016 and a succession of attacks on Ukraine’s power grid that prompted security chiefs to call for improved cyberdefences.
The central bank said an “unknown virus” was to blame for the latest attacks. “As a result of these cyber-attacks, these banks are having difficulties with client services and carrying out banking operations,” it said in a statement.
“The central bank is confident that the banking infrastructure’s defence against cyberfraud is properly set up and attempted cyber-attacks on banks’ IT systems will be neutralised,” it said.
The state power distributor, Ukrenergo, said its computer system had been hit, but added that the attack had not affected power supplies.
Ukraine has blamed Russia for previous cyber-ttacks, including one on its power grid at the end of 2015 that left part of western Ukraine temporarily without electricity. Russia has denied carrying out cyber-attacks on Ukraine.