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NATO: ‘State Actor’ Behind Massive Ransomware Attack

A “state actor” was behind the cyber attack that hit over 12,000 devices in around 65 countries on Tuesday hitting major industries from advertising to oil, according to NATO.
The “Petya” ransomware attack encrypted files on a computer and demanded $300 worth of the cryptocurrency bitcoin in order to unlock them. Kaspersky Lab estimates at least 2,000 targets were affected, mostly in Russia and the Ukraine, but attacks were registered in several other countries, including Germany, the UK and China.
Researching the attack, NATO says it was likely launched by a state actor, or by a non-state actor with support and approval from a state, as the operation was very complex and expensive.
“The operation was not too complex, but still complex and expensive enough to have been prepared and executed by unaffiliated hackers for the sake of practice. Cyber criminals are not behind this either, as the method for collecting the ransom was so poorly designed that the ransom would probably not even cover the cost of the operation,” NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence (CCD COE), said in a press release on Friday.
The implications of this mean that the cyber attack could be interpreted as an act of war, according to the organization. On Wednesday, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said a cyber attack could trigger Article 5, the principal of collective defense.
NATO investigators added that the cyber attack was a “declaration of power” and a demonstration of the culprit’s ability to cause disruption.
More than 30 percent of affected firms were financials, according to analysis by Kaspersky Lab, while at least half of those targeted were industrial organizations, such as utilities, oil and gas, transportation, logistics, manufacturing and other companies.
Initially it seemed the attack was caused by cyber criminals looking to extract ransoms from victims, but NATO’s analysis appears to put this theory aside. In terms of the bitcoin ransom demanded, it appears the attackers haven’t made much. Only a total of 3.99 bitcoins has been paid in ransom so far, worth a total of $10,284 at today’s bitcoin price.
Source: CNBC

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