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How Petya ransomware struck

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The Petya ransomeware attack that has been spreading around the world since 27 June my be the worst of its kind and infections are starting to show up in South Africa.

The Petya ransomware attack that has been spreading across the world since yesterday (27 June) may prove to be the worst of its kind yet experienced. South Africa has remained relatively unscathed, but infections are beginning here.

ESET researchers have located the point from which this global epidemic has all started. Attackers have successfully compromised the accounting software M.E.Doc, popular across various industries in Ukraine, including financial institutions. Several of them executed a trojanized update of M.E.Doc, which allowed attackers to launch the massive ransomware campaign today which spread across the whole country and to the whole world. M.E.Doc has today released a warning on their website: http://www.me-doc.com.ua/vnimaniyu-polzovateley

Numerous reports are coming out on social media about a new ransomware attack in Ukraine, which could be related to the Petya family, which is currently detected by ESET as Win32/Diskcoder.C Trojan. If it successfully infects the MBR, it will encrypt the whole drive itself. Otherwise, it encrypts all files, like Mischa.

For spreading, it appears to be using a combination of the SMB exploit (EternalBlue) used by WannaCryptor for getting inside the network, then spreading through PsExec for spreading within the network.

This dangerous combination may be the reason why this outbreak has spread globally and rapidly, even after the previous outbreaks have generated media headlines and hopefully most vulnerabilities have been patched. It only takes one unpatched computer to get inside the network, and the malware can get administrator rights and spread to other computers.

The journalist Christian Borys, for example, tweeted that the cyberattack has “allegedly hit” banks, power grid and postal companies, among others. Moreover, it appears that the government has also come under attack. Borys has also tweeted an image put up on Facebook by Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Pavlo Rozenko, which shows a computer apparently being encrypted.

The National Bank of Ukraine has also put out a message on its website warning other banks of the ransomware attack. It stated: “Currently, the financial sector strengthened security measures and counter hacker attacks all financial market participants.”

Forbes said that while there appear to be similarities with WannaCryptor – with others describing it as WannaCry-esque – it is likely to be a variant of Petya.

An image, similar to the one witnessed by WannaCryptor victims, reportedly showing the ransomware message is making the rounds online, with one from Group-IB showing the following message (paraphrased):

“If you see this text, then your files are no longer accessible, because they have been encrypted … We guarantee that you can recover all your files safely and easily. All you need to do is submit the payment [$300 bitcoins] and purchase the decryption key.”

However, a spokesman said that “there is no effect on power supplies”, although it may be too early to ascertain this.

It appears that the ransomware attack is not specific to Ukraine. The Independent said that Spain and India may also have been affected, as well as the Danish shipping company Maersk and the British advertising company WPP.

On the latter’s homepage, the following message reads: “The WPP web site is currently unavailable due to important routine maintenance normal service will resume shortly.

“We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. In the meantime if you would like to contact WPP, please email the site Editor at the following address …”

WPP has since confirmed on Twitter that it has been the victim of an attack: “IT systems in several WPP companies have been affected by a suspected cyberattack. We are taking appropriate measures & will update asap.”

There are also reports that payments are being made in response to the attack, at the BTC address linked here.

For more on Petya, check out this insightful piece from 2016, which notes of the crypto-ransomware:

Petya took an approach different from that of other crypto-ransomware. Instead of encrypting files individually, it aimed at the file system.

“The target is the victim’s master boot record (MBR), which is responsible for loading the operating system right after system boot.”

In order to prevent this kind of threat, we recommend that you always have your systems fully patched, that you use a proper security solution and that you set up network segmentation, which might help prevent spreading within the network.

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Now download a bank account

Absa has introduced an end-to-end account opening for new customers, through the Absa Banking App, which can be downloaded from the Android and Apple app stores. This follows the launch of the world first ChatBanking on WhatsApp service.

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This “download your account” feature enables new customers to Absa, to open a Cheque account, order their card and start transacting on the Absa Banking App, all within minutes, from anywhere and at any time, by downloading it from the App stores.

“Overall, this new capability is not only expected to enhance the customer’s digital experience, but we expect to leverage this in our branches, bringing digital experiences to the branch environment and making it easier for our customers to join and bank with us regardless of where they may be,” says Aupa Monyatsi, Managing Executive for Virtual Channels at Absa Retail & Business Banking.

“With this innovation comes the need to ensure that the security of our customers is at the heart of our digital experience, this is why the digital onboarding experience for this feature includes a high-quality facial matching check with the Department of Home Affairs to verify the customer’s identity, ensuring that we have the most up to date information of our clients. Security is supremely important for us.”

The new version of the Absa Banking App is now available in the Apple and Android App stores, and anyone with a South African ID can become an Absa customer, by following these simple steps:

  1. Download the Absa App
  2. Choose the account you would like to open
  3. Tell us who you are
  4. To keep you safe, we will verify your cell phone number
  5. Take a selfie, and we will do facial matching with the Department of Home Affairs to confirm you are who you say you are
  6. Tell us where you live
  7. Let us know what you do for a living and your income
  8. Click Apply.

 

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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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