After WannaCry, it's Petya ransomeware

Hackers have caused widespread disruption across Europe hitting Ukraine especially hard. | AP file

The Ukrainian Government on Wednesday said that it had managed to completely restore its computer networks after a massive cyber attack.

Later, multinationals in Western Europe and the U.S. reported that they too had been hit by the virus.

Several companies that reported problems were still grappling with the attack.

Security experts are warning that a quick-spreading new ransomware attack may have more tricks up its sleeve than the previous WannaCry software that crippled thousands of computers worldwide last month.

Companies don't patch for a variety of reasons: their machines don't support the patch, it's too expensive to do it, it might disrupt their services or they simply forget about an outdated computer on their network. More than 30 victims paid into the bitcoin account associated with the attack, according to a public ledger of transactions listed on blockchain.info.

TRT World's Sara Firth reports from London.

The government of Ukraine, where the attacks were first reported and appeared most severe, said the attack had been halted, but key organisations were still reporting problems.

What is less clear, is how or why this ransomware spread beyond Ukraine's borders, especially since it attacked multiple targets in Russian Federation including the Kremlin-controlled Rosneft, the country's largest crude producer.

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The total number of attacks was unknown. Many businesses' core systems are still running on older versions of Windows, and any systems on the same networks can be infected thanks to Petya's use of a few extra exploits and layers of encryption. In that attack, just like in this case ransom was demanded for the release of the computer systems.

All Russian branches of Home Credit consumer lender are closed because of a cyber attack, an employee of a Home Credit call centre in Russia said. The terminal is a part of India's larger port for containers and was left incapacitated for a long while, unable to load or unload containers for the time.

WPP had joined other companies such as shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk in reporting disruption to its operations due to a cyber attack. In Tasmania, an Australian official said a Cadbury chocolate factory had stopped production after computers there crashed. This because hackers behind Petya ransomware would not be able to retrieve the corrupt files. According to Kaspersky Lab, almost 2,000 users or terminals have been affected across North America as of mid-Tuesday. And it didn't shoot across the internet the way WannaCry did - instead, it spreads inside company networks.

Petya is still very risky, the Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team (SingCERT) explained as the malware doesn't only encrypt targeted files, but it also stops the computer from loading the operating system. It advised victims not to pay the extortion, saying that doing so does not guarantee access will be restored.

The White House National Security Council said in a statement there was now no risk to public safety.

Kaspersky Lab's analysts are investigating the new wave of ransomware attacks targeting organizations across the world.

The NSA did not respond to a request for comment.

The situation was "under the full control" of cybersecurity specialists who were working to recover lost data, the government said.

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