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New ransomware attack strikes companies across Europe

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Major firms, airports & government departments in Ukraine have been struck by a massive cyber attack which began to spread across Europe on Tuesday afternoon.

In Ukraine, government departments, the central bank, a state-run aircraft manufacturer,  the airport in Kiev & the metro network have all been paralyzed by the hack.

In the UK, the advertising firm WPP said its systems had also been struck down, while in the Netherlands a major shipping firm confirmed its computer terminals were malfunctioning.

The virus is believed to be ransomware - a piece of malicious software that shuts down a computer system & then demands an extortionate sum of money to fix the problem.

A researcher for Kaspersky Lab identified the virus as Petrwrap, a strain of the Petya ransomware identified by the firm in March.

It comes just a few weeks after the WannaCry hack which affected more than 150 countries & crippled parts of the NHS.

American & British analysts believe that attack, which unfolded in May, was carried out by North Korea. It remains unclear who is responsible for Tuesday's attack. 

"The National Bank of Ukraine has warned banks... about an external hacker attack on the websites of some Ukrainian banks... which was carried out today", Ukraine's central bank said in a statement.

A spokesman for Ukraine's Presidential Administration said it was paying "a high level of attention" to the situation.

Maersk, a Danish transport & logistics company with branches worldwide, announced that "multiple sites & business units" had been shut down after the cyber attack.

It came as Russian oil giant Rosneft said that its servers had suffered a "powerful" cyberattack, as the company is locked in a bitter court fight with the Russian conglomerate Sistema.

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