Much alike the recent assault that crippled tens of thousands of machines world-wide, computer systems from the Ukraine to the United States were struck Tuesday in an international cyber attack.
During the attack, in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, around 80 miles away, workers were forced to manually monitor the radiation levels at the old Chernobyl nuclear plant. Technology managers around the world, from the Maersk shipping company, based in Denmark, confirmed that its “IT systems are down across multiple sites and business units due to a cyber attack.” and pharmaceutical giant Merck tweeted that its “computer network was compromised today as part of global hack.”
The attack had struck airports, government departments, and major firms before spreading across Europe this afternoon. In Ukraine, the central bank, government departments, a state-run aircraft manufacturer, the airport in Kiev and the metro network have all been paralyzed.
The U.S., Department of Homeland Security spokesman Scott McConnell says the agency is “monitoring reports of cyber attacks affecting multiple global entities and is coordinating with our international and domestic cyber partners.”
Interpol also states that it’s closely monitoring the suspected attack.
It is unclear who is behind this cyber attack and the extents of its impact will be rough to tell today. It started as an attack on Ukrainian government and business computer systems, an assault that had appeared to have been intended to hit the day before Ukraine’s adoption of its first Constitution after its break from the Soviet Union.
This outbreak was the latest and possibly the most sophisticated in a series of attacks making use of dozens of hacking tools that had been stolen from the National Security Agency and leaked online in April by a group called The Shadow Brokers.
Much like the WannaCry attacks in May, it appears that the same National Security Agency hackin tool, Eternal Blue, that was used in several other methods to promote its spread, such as the WannaCry episode.
The cyber attack was initiated by malware that’s called “Peya”, however, there is a debate in the security community over whether the ransomware is new or if it’s a variant that had been enhanced to make it more difficult to stop.