Ukraine central bank says cyberattack hits lenders

Andrew Cummings
June 28, 2017

Ukraine Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said in a statement posted on Facebook the attack was "unpredecented" but that "vital systems haven't been affected" and underscored to readers, "Our IT experts are doing their job and protecting critical infrastructure..."

A number of Ukrainian banks and companies, including the state power distributor, were hit by a cyber attack that disrupted some operations, the Ukrainian central bank said.

"We confirm our company's computer network was compromised today as part of a global hack".

Group IB, a Moscow-based cyber security company, said that hackers used a cryptolocker called "Petya", which blocks access to computers and displays a message demanding a $300 ransom payable in bitcoin.

Ukraine's central bank, Kiev's main airport, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site, and a string of multinational companies, including U.S. pharmaceutical giant Merck, Russian state oil giant Rosneft, British advertising giant WPP and French industrial group Saint-Gobain, were among the victims.

Two Russian energy giants were hit simultaneously as well, where Ukraine says it believes the hack originated.

Like a previous attack that swept into more than 150 countries on May 12, Tuesday's virulent outbreak appeared to be powered by a USA cyber weapon stolen from the National Security Agency.

This likely has a lot to do with how much was priced in last month following the WannaCry ransomware breakout, as well as how easy it is to secure systems against the particular exploit that both attacks rely on.

A Moscow-based cyber security firm, Group-IB, said it appeared to be a coordinated attack simultaneously targeting Russian Federation and Ukraine.

"Unfortunately, businesses are still not ready and now more than 80 companies are affected", said Nikolay Grebennikov, vice president for R&D at data protection firm Acronis. Sophos is investigating the attack and will continue to provide updates here throughout the day.

Major global firms reported that they were under attack, including British advertising agency WPP, Russian oil and gas giant Rosneft and Danish shipping firm Maersk.

Among the banks apparently affected was Oschadbank, one of Ukraine's largest, it said on the website, forcing it to limit services available to clients.

The government press service said Petya hit "personal computers" of some individuals but not government servers.

Other victims include Maersk, the global shipping logistics company, which confirmed via Twitter that it had fallen victim to a cyber attack.

Also affected is New Jersey-based Merck, the second-largest drugmaker in the United States with extensive operations in the Philadelphia area.

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