New Virus Spreading Through Computers That Started in Ukraine

A new computer virus created havoc for companies across the globe Wednesday after spreading to over 60 countries helping to disrupt ports from Los Angeles to Mumbai and stopping work at an Australian chocolate factory.

Cyence an online firm that specializes in risk management said that the economic losses from the attack this week and last month’s similar attack from WannaCry virus would total over $8 billion.

The estimate spotlights the high tolls that businesses across the globe are facing from the increase in cyberattacks that cause computer systems to be knocked offline.

The CEO of one security software manufacturer said that when systems are down and cannot help to generate revenue, it gets the attention of everyone but especially top executives and members of the board of directors.

Researchers are calling this virus Petya or GoldenEye. They say it began spreading in Ukraine on Tuesday and infected machines of visitors of a local news site as well as computers that downloaded updates that were tainted of a popular package for tax accounting.

The virus shuttered a system for cargo booking at A.P. Moller-Maersk the shipping giant based in Denmark, causing great congestion at some of the more than 76 ports across the globe run by its subsidiary APM Terminals.

Late Wednesday, Maersk said that its system was online again, with booking confirmations taking slightly longer than normal but at least back online.

FedEx the package delivery company based in the U.S. said its division TNT Express was affected significantly by the latest virus, which also entered South America affecting ports operated by Cofco operating in Argentina.

The malicious virus encrypted data onto machines and then demanded victims to pay ransoms of $300 for recovery, which was similar to May’s WannaCry attack that extorted money from computer owners.

Experts in security said they the goal they believe was to disrupt many computer systems across Ukraine, but not through extortion, saying this attack using software that wiped away data that was impossible to recover.

A cyberattack specialist said the virus was a wiper software that was disguised as ransomware. No intention existed in obtaining monies from the Wednesday attack, said the security analyst.

The malware it appears leveraged code referred to as Eternal Blue that is believed to have been developed by the United States National Security Agency.

It was part of a number of hacking tools that were stolen from NSA and then leaked online last April.