Computer worm leaves a trail of disruption in its wake across the globe

It is surprising how many world class businesses still use Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system, one that is totally outdated, in their core production facilities.

The major cyberattack that left a wreck in its wake, including halting the operations of Cadbury’s chocolate plans in Australia, crippling the computers of port operator Maersk, is believed to have first struck Ukraine.

Ukrainian banks, Russia’s biggest oil company and multinational firms were among those who were severely hit by the cyber extortion campaign which underscores growing concerns among businesses that their network security need to be more proactive.

The cyberattack was caused by a computer worm, which appears to be a variant of an existing ransomware family known as Petya, has borrowed key features from “WannaCry”.

As per ESET, 80% of all detected infections stem from its global customers based out of Ukraine. The operations of several international firms who are based out Ukraine have been hit.

Italy is the second country which has been hit the hardest.

The logistics unit of shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk, which handles one in seven containers shipped worldwide, which is based out of Ukraine is unable to process new orders due to the cyberattacks.

“Right now, at this hour, we’re not able to take new orders,” said Vincent Clerc, Maersk Line Chief Commercial Officer on Wednesday.

French real estate giant, BNP Paribas Real Estate, which provides property and investment management services, has also confirmed that its operations have been widely affected by the attacks.

“The international cyber attack hit our non-bank subsidiary, Real Estate. The necessary measures have been taken to rapidly contain the attack,” said the bank.

Production at a Cadbury’s factory in Tasmania came to a grinding halt after its computer systems crashed due to the cyberattacks, said John Short, the secretary of the Australian Manufacturing and Workers Union.

Russia’s Rosneft, one of the world’s biggest producers of crude oil by volume, stated its computer systems had suffered a series of “serious consequences”. However it said its oil production had not been affected because it switched over to backup systems.

The worm behind the cyber attack, exploited vulnerabilities in Microsoft Corp’s Windows operating system and encrypting hard drives and overwrote files, and demanded the payment of $300 in bitcoin to restore access.

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