A new and highly virulent outbreak of data-scrambling software — apparently sown in Ukraine — caused disruption across the world Tuesday.Following a similar attack in May , the fresh cyber-assault paralyzed some hospitals, government offices and major multinational corporations in a dramatic demonstration of how easily malicious programs can bring daily life to a halt.
Ukraine and Russia appeared hardest hit by the new strain of ransomware — malicious software that locks up computer files with all-but-unbreakable encryption and then demands a ransom for its release. In the United States, the malware affected companies such as the drugmaker Merck and Mondelez International, the owner of food brandssuch as Oreo and Nabisco.
Its pace appeared to slow as the day wore on, in part because the malware appeared to require direct contact between computer networks, a factor that may have limited its spread in regions with fewer connections to Ukraine.
The malware’s origins remain unclear. Researchers picking the programapart found evidence its creators had borrowed from leaked National Security Agency code, raising the possibility that the digital havoc hadspread using U.S. taxpayer-funded tools.
“The virus is spreading all over Europe and I’m afraid it can harm the whole world,” said Victor Zhora, the chief executive of Infosafe IT in Kiev, where reports of the malicious software first emerged early afternoon local time Tuesday.
In Ukraine, victims included top-level government offices, where officials posted photos of darkened computer screens, as well as energy companies, banks, cash machines, gas stations, and supermarkets. Ukrainian Railways and the communications company Ukrtelecom were among major enterprises hit.
The ransomware also attacks the India's busiest largest container port Jawaharlal Nehru Port. Operations at one of the three terminals of the nation's largest container port Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) were impacted on Tuesday night as a fallout of the global ransomware attack, which crippled some central banks and many large corporations in Europe.
AP Moller-Maersk, one of the affected entities globally, operates the Gateway Terminals India (GTI) at JNPT, which has a capacity to handle 1.8 million standard container units.
The current attacks come weeks after the Wannacry ransomware attack, which impacted systems of many companies.