Thousands of computer users across the globe scrambled to reboot on Wednesday as calls grew to step up defences after a fresh wave of ransomware cyber-attacks spread from Ukraine and Russia worldwide.
The virus, which demanded a payment worth $300 (roughly Rs. 20,000) as it locked up files at companies and government agencies including the Chernobyl nuclear site, was reminiscent of the WannaCry ransomware that swept the world last month, hitting more than 200,000 users in more than 150 countries.
But the new attack appeared much smaller in scale, with global cyber-security firm Kaspersky Lab estimating the number of victims at 2,000. There was no immediate indication of who was responsible.
The director of European police agency Europol, Rob Wainwright, said there were “clear similarities” with the WannaCry incident but warned that there were also “indications of a more sophisticated attack capability intended to exploit a range of vulnerabilities”.
Some IT specialists identified the newcomer as “Petrwrap”, a modified version of ransomware called Petya which circulated last year. But Kaspersky described it as a new form of ransomware.
And after a fresh cyber-attack challenged security worldwide for the second time in just a few months there were international demands for greater focus on battling the issue.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the situation “underlines the importance of strengthening our cyber defences” as he warned hacking attacks could potentially trigger the US-led bloc’s mutual defence commitment.
Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the incident proves Russian demands for “cooperation” were…