Cyber attacks have been on the rise in recent months, but Petya ransomware, the latest global malware attacks spreading through computers around the world as at this moment, highlights the growing danger of third-party software installations.
Government agencies, private/public firms, and individuals have fallen victims to this global threat.
Petya ransomware reportedly started from Russia and Ukraine, quickly spreading through Europe, US, and now Asia.
So far, it has been reported in 64 countries.
NATO described the tidal wave of cyber attacks as “a call to arms.”
Jens Stoltenberg, a NATO official has declared the organization’s resolve to boost its defense mechanisms against hackers, stressing that Petya ransomware may have provided the needed circumstance for Article 5 on mutual defense commitment to be activated.
Over 12,500 machines were infiltrated in Ukraine, where Microsoft alleged that the malware began its spread.
Image: Jens Stoltenberg
However, Tech Republic reported that new evidence confirms “Petya malware variant was initially spread via an updater for the tax accounting software MEDoc.”
According to a team of researchers from Microsoft Windows Defender, the command was executed at 10.30am GMT on Tuesday, 27 June, 2017.
“We observed telemetry showing the MEDoc software updater process (EzVit.exe) executing a malicious command-line matching this exact attack pattern,” the researchers wrote.
“…The new ransomware has worm capabilities, which allows it to move laterally across infected networks. Based on our investigation, this new ransomware shares similar codes and is a new variant of Ransom:Win32/Petya.
“This new strain of ransomware, however, is more sophisticated.”
More than 200,000 users in 150 countries fell victims to a similar malware attack [the WannaCry ransomware] last month.
Stoltenberg admitted that the May attack and this week’s devastating news, underlines the need for cyber defences to be strengthened, adding that NATO is already on the wings.
Image: Jens Stoltenberg
“We exercise more, we share best practices and technology and we also work more and more closely with all allies,” he told reporters in preparation for NATO defence ministers’ upcoming meeting which is scheduled to hold in Brussels on Thursday.
Talking about cyber-security which will be a key discussion-point at the meeting, Stoltenberg hinted that part of last year’s agreements between their leaders is that “a cyber attack could be considered a threat sufficiently serious to warrant invoking the alliance’s “all for one, one for all” security guarantee.
The NATO chief revealed that “they also made cyber a NATO domain — on a par with the traditional air, sea and land arms to become part of overall alliance planning and resource allocation.”
“NATO was also helping Ukraine, the country first hit by Tuesday’s cyberattack, with its online defences,” Stoltenberg said.
Jens Stoltenberg, 58, is a Norwegian politician, and the 13th Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He has held the position since 1 October, 2014.
He served as the country’s Prime Minister from 2000 to 2001 and a longer term between 2005 to 2013.