Petya is Here, And It’s Taking Cues from WannaCry

Just over a month after the infamous WannaCry attack, a new worldwide cyberattack is here again. Its name is Petya, or Petwrap, it’s hit companies everywhere across Europe, including Ukraine’s government facilities, electric grids, banks, and public transportation, demanding a $300 ransom in Bitcoin in the process.

So how does this Petya attack work, exactly? Going after Windows servers, PCs, and laptops, this cyberattack appears to be an “updated variant” of the Petya malware virus. It uses the SMB (Server Message Block) vulnerability that WannaCry did to spread to unpatched devices in combination with a credential-stealing technique to spread non-vulnerable machines as well. This attack then encrypts, among other files, your master boot file. These messages recommend you conduct a system reboot, after which the system is inaccessible. This basically means the operating system won’t be able to locate files and, not to mention, there’s no way to decrypt files.

This makes Petya a wiper, instead of ransomware as it was first believed to be. And even though Petya demands a Bitcoin payment, these cybercriminals aren’t really in this for the money. In fact, its more likely that this was aimed at either causing destruction, or conducting a test to see how far this attack can spread, as these crooks may be potentially preparing for a larger attack in the future.

Now, the next question is – what can people do to stay secure? Though this attack is largely targeting companies, it’s important everyone stays vigilant and takes precautionary measures. Therefore, to stay protected from Petya, follow these tips:

-Always make sure your anti-virus is up-to-date to maximize the protection available to you.

-Don’t click too quickly. This attack may be spreading through phishing or spam emails, so make sure you check an email’s content for legitimacy. Hover over a link and see if it’s going to a reliable URL. Or, if you’re unsure about an email’s content or the source it came from, do a quick search and look for other instances of this campaign, and what those instances could tell you about the email’s legitimacy.

-Do a complete back up. Back up all of your machines immediately. If a machine becomes infected with Petya, data could become wiped entirely. Therefore, make sure you cover all your bases and have your data stored on an external hard drive or elsewhere.

-Apply system and application updates. Make sure your operating system is up-to-date to help contain the spread of malware. Petya is spreading in organizations using the same technique as WannaCry, infecting systems that did not have up-to-date OS patches.

We will update this post with breaking news.

For more information on this attack, check out the blog from our research team on Petya or the Knowledge Center. And, of course, stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats by following me and @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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