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Petya Ransomware Takes the World by Storm

The next massive ransomware shoe has dropped, and its name is Petya.

It's back. Six weeks after WannaCry delivered its payload of misery to millions of computer systems around the world, the gift that keeps on taking has returned. This time, Petya is the name, but theft and disruption remain the game in play.

There are a number of similarities between Petya and WannaCry and a few key differences. At its heart, Petya takes advantage of the same exploit used by WannaCry, a vulnerability in Microsoft Window's SMB service dubbed "eternalblue." Like WannaCry, Petya has begun to sweep through organizations on the backs of un-patched systems, rapidly spreading horizontally in an organization after gaining its initial foothold.

Unlike WannaCry, Petya began its march across the globe in Ukraine, striking the nation's central bank and Kiev's electric utility and international airport. Highlighting the indiscriminate nature of this kind of attack, radiation monitoring systems at Chernobyl were infected.

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Like WannaCry, Petya is spreading rapidly across a number of countries. As of the time of this article, companies in Russia, Norway, the UK, the Netherlands and the US have reported infections. As with the earlier attack, the amount of ransom demanded is small -- $300 per system -- but the cost of isolating infected systems and remediating the damage will be much higher in virtually every instance.

Both WannaCry and Petya make use of an exploit contained in Wikileaks' Vault 7 release, meaning that both are widely assumed to have been discovered and developed by the NSA. A recent poll here at Security Now found that nearly 80% of community members thought that a second Vault 7 exploit would take place within six months of WannaCry. It now seems that the community members were prescient in looking forward.

As is the case with so many breaking news stories, Twitter has exploded with accounts of infection and information on both the outbreak and attempts to control the damage.

Security Now will remain on top of the story and will bring more information and analysis when it's available. In the meantime, if you are dealing with Petya we'd like to hear about your experience. Let us know in the comments below what's happening in your IT world. The only safe thing to say is that this one is not over, yet.

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— Curtis Franklin is the editor of SecurityNow.com. Follow him on Twitter @kg4gwa.

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About the Author(s)

Curtis Franklin, Principal Analyst, Omdia

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Principal Analyst at Omdia, focusing on enterprise security management. Previously, he was senior editor of Dark Reading, editor of Light Reading's Security Now, and executive editor, technology, at InformationWeek, where he was also executive producer of InformationWeek's online radio and podcast episodes

Curtis has been writing about technologies and products in computing and networking since the early 1980s. He has been on staff and contributed to technology-industry publications including BYTE, ComputerWorld, CEO, Enterprise Efficiency, ChannelWeb, Network Computing, InfoWorld, PCWorld, Dark Reading, and ITWorld.com on subjects ranging from mobile enterprise computing to enterprise security and wireless networking.

Curtis is the author of thousands of articles, the co-author of five books, and has been a frequent speaker at computer and networking industry conferences across North America and Europe. His most recent books, Cloud Computing: Technologies and Strategies of the Ubiquitous Data Center, and Securing the Cloud: Security Strategies for the Ubiquitous Data Center, with co-author Brian Chee, are published by Taylor and Francis.

When he's not writing, Curtis is a painter, photographer, cook, and multi-instrumentalist musician. He is active in running, amateur radio (KG4GWA), the MakerFX maker space in Orlando, FL, and is a certified Florida Master Naturalist.

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