While the WannaCry cyber-attack during May this year is still the talk among security researchers, a cyber-attack recently struck countries (mainly in Eastern Europe) such as Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and Denmark on June 27th. The ransomware attack was named “Petya.” As the data on the PC was being stolen, the warning screen stated that if the PC was unplugged, all the data on it would be lost forever. In order to retrieve the files, the Petya demanded $300 worth of Bitcoins to a link.
This commotion is awfully similar to the WannaCry scandal, where computers powered by Microsoft Windows were under attack, and users were forced to fork over $300 over to the hackers in order to retrieve their data. The hack was originally discovered by NSA (National Security Agency). Another hacking group, known as the Shadow Brokers, released a cache of stolen NSA documents on the internet. According to Symantec and Kaspersky Labs, this ransomware may have links to the North Korean Lazarus group.
Boryspil Airport in Ukraine, the National Bank, ATMs, the metro station, and even supermarkets were victims of this attack. Maersk, a Danish business conglomerate, is trying to tighten their security after the fallout, and have recently restored their IT systems. Even UK-based advertising company WPP’s office in America suffered from the attack. And it gets worse – Cabinet of Minister of Ukraine’s Secretariat’s PC was attacked too. It was named “Petya” because its coding seemed to be very similar to an older piece of ransomware called “Petya”. However, the security researchers at the Kaspersky Lab in Russia noticed that the “resemblance is only skin-deep.”
But the question on everyone’s minds is – who is behind all of this? It’s been only a week since the attack; researchers at NATO have stated that it “most likely run by a state or non-state actor with support and approval from a state since the operation was extremely complex and expensive.”
Both the WannaCry and Petya attacks just prove the vulnerability in the Microsoft OS, and how lightly people take internet security and privacy of their PC, which could result in them not only losing all of their data but losing their private information to a group of strangers.
The two ransomware seem to have different intents and impacts. The intent of the WannaCry ransomware was plainly financial gain. Although victims could potentially lose their data (unless they had back-ups), recovering their data was fairly simple compared to Petya. In this case, the intent must be corrupting operations within business and government organisations and using it to their advantage. Security researchers said that the program for Petya was designed much better, and WannaCry had so many bugs and issues (such as the killswitch, which enabled victims to force quit the hack).
These warning signs urge us civilians to back up our devices that hold important information and be more concerned about their privacy. Internet security companies urge us to install software that could prevent us from being hacked, especially since we’re all potentially on the verge of another attack in the near future.