Global ransomware attack hits Merck, health system after thrashing Europe

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Although Microsoft in March made available a patch for the Windows flaw that EternalBlue exploited, Petya uses other techniques to infect systems, said Jeff Greene, Symantec government affairs director. A global wave of cyberattacks that began in Russian Federation and Ukraine yesterday wrought havoc on government and corporate computer systems as it spread to Western Europe and across the Atlantic.

The first attacks were reported from Russian Federation and Ukraine, which were also the two most affected countries.

Dutch-based transport company TNT Express, which was taken over a year ago by FedEx, also said Tuesday that it is suffering computer disruptions.

Security experts said Tuesday's global cyberattack shares something in common with last month's outbreak of ransomware, dubbed WannaCry: Both spread using digital lock picks originally created by the NSA and later published to the web by a still-mysterious group known as the Shadowbrokers.

Britain's WPP, the world's biggest advertising agency, said on Tuesday it had been hit by a cyber attack, one of many major corporations to face major disruption.

The virus was similar to the ransomware, Wannacry, that infected more than 300,000 computers.

Kiev's main airport was also hit with an attack.

The virus' pace appeared to slow by Wednesday, in part because the malware appeared to require direct contact between computer networks, a factor that may have limited its spread in regions with fewer connections to Ukraine. Spokesman Cyrille Gibot says that "like many other companies and institutions around the world, we are experiencing interference with some of our systems within the TNT network".

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It's still unclear where the ransomware attacks, which hold files hostage if companies or governments refuse to pay recompense (in this case $300 in Bitcoin for a decryption key), are originating.

Department of Homeland Security spokesman Scott McConnell refused to explain if USA firms or infrastructure have been affected by the cyber attacks, but he said that the government is in communication with its worldwide partners and is ready to provide help to anyone who requests it, Efe news reported.

Russia's Rosneft, which was one of the world's biggest crude producers by volume, said its systems had suffered "serious consequences". Later it became known that the attack has also undergone a computer network of the Bank "home credit" and metallurgical company Evraz.

The American pharmaceutical company Merck announced that it was hit by the attacks.

IT systems in several WPP companies have been affected by a suspected cyber attack.

German postal and logistics company Deutsche Post said systems of its Express division in the Ukraine have in part been affected by a cyber attack.

Officials said the Kenilworth, New Jersey-based company was investigating the incident but provided no further details.

The security researchers said it's now not as big as WannaCry, but the volume is considerable.

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