A cyberattack that caused indiscriminate economic damage around the world was apparently designed to create maximum havoc in Russia’s neighbour and adversary Ukraine, security researchers said. While the rogue software used in the attack was configured as extortionate “ransomware,” that may have just been a ruse.
“It is clear that this was targeted indiscriminately at Ukrainian businesses, and the Ukrainian government,” Jake Williams, president of the security firm Rendition Infosec and a former member of the US National Security Agency’s elite cyberwarfare group, told The Associated Press in an online chat. “The ‘ransomware’ component is just a smokescreen (and a bad one).”
“There is still a lot of damage, especially in banks,” said Victor Zhora, CEO of the Kiev cybersecurity firm InfoSafe. “ATMs are working (again) but some bank operations are still limited.” He estimated damage in “the millions of dollars, perhaps tens of millions.”
And that’s just in Ukraine. Microsoft said the malware hit at least 64 nations, including Russia, Germany and the United States. “I expect that we will see additional fallout from this is the coming days,” said Williams.
Problems have been reported across the shippers’ global business, from Mobile, Alabama, to Mumbai in India. At Mumbai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Port, several hundred containers could be seen piled up at just two of more than a dozen yards.
“The vessels are coming, the ships are coming, but they are not able to take the container because all the systems are down,” trading and clearing agent Rajeshree Verma said. “We are actually in a fix because of all this.”