MOSCOW/KIEV/WASHINGTON — A major global cyber attack on Tuesday disrupted computers at Russia’s biggest oil company, Ukrainian banks and multinational firms with a virus similar to the ransomware that last month infected more than 300,000
The rapidly spreading cyber extortion campaign underscored growing concerns that businesses have failed to secure their networks from increasingly aggressive hackers, who have shown they are capable of shutting down critical infrastructure and crippling corporate and government networks.
It included code known as “Eternal Blue,” which cyber security experts widely believe was stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and was also used in last month’s ransomware attack, named “WannaCry.”
“Cyber attacks can simply destroy us,” said Kevin Johnson, chief executive of cyber security firm Secure Ideas. “Companies are just not doing what they are supposed to do to fix the problem.”
The ransomware virus crippled computers running Microsoft Corp’s Windows by encrypting hard drives and overwriting files, then demanded $300 in bitcoin payments to restore access. More than 30 victims paid into the bitcoin account associated with the attack, according to a public ledger of transactions listed on blockchain.info.
Microsoft said the virus could spread through a flaw that was patched in a security update in March.
“We are continuing to investigate and will take appropriate action to protect customers,” a spokesman for the company said, adding that Microsoft antivirus software detects and removes it.Follow @gorkhapost
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Asteroid the size of Burj Khalifa heading for Earth
CALIFORNIA — A ‘potentially hazardous’ asteroid, larger than the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, is heading towards Earth at a speed of 76,000 miles per hour.
Asteroid named 2002 AJ129 will fly past Earth on February 4, coming within 2.6 million miles (4.2 million kilometers) of our planet, according to NASA.
Although this is the equivalent of ten times the distance between Earth and the moon, it falls within the parameters of ‘potentially dangerous’ — a classification applied to any asteroid within 4.6 million miles of the Earth, NASA said.
“We have been tracking this asteroid for over 14 years and know its orbit very accurately,” said Paul Chodas from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“Our calculations indicate that asteroid 2002 AJ129 has no chance – zero – of colliding with Earth on February 4 or any time over the next 100 years.”
The impressive rock measures up to 0.75 miles (1.2 kilometers) wide and will reach a velocity of 76,000 mph at its closest approach – greater than the majority of near-Earth objects during an Earth flyby.
The high flyby velocity is a result of the asteroid’s orbit, which edges very close to the sun. Despite this, NASA states categorically that there is no threat of a collision with our planet.