A ransomware attack has struck across the globe, taking out servers at Russia’s biggest oil company and shutting down computers at multinational businesses, including the Australian offices of a global law firm.
The malicious software locks up computer files with all-but-unbreakable encryption and then demands a ransom in the virtual currency bitcoin for its release.
Global law firm DLA Piper has told Australian staff it has been the victim of a “major cyber incident” overnight.
Australian staff were advised via text early this morning that all DLA Piper IT systems have been taken down to contain the situation and have been warned not to attempt to log in to their computers or turn them on.
Cyber security experts said those behind the attack appeared to have exploited the same type of hacking tool used in the WannaCry ransomware attack that infected hundreds of thousands of computers in May.
“We’ve always known this could happen. From a government point of view, our Computer Emergency Response Team will be reaching out to industry to make sure we’re giving the right message.”
Mr MacGibbon said if Australians were affected they should not pay any ransom.
“Our advice is you don’t ever pay a criminal … There is no knowledge that they will actually unlock the system,” he said.
Experts said the latest ransomware attacks unfolding worldwide, dubbed GoldenEye, were a variant of an existing ransomware family called Petya.
It uses two layers of encryption which have frustrated efforts by researchers to break the code, according to Romanian security firm Bitdefender.