Maersk says its IT system is down

The world’s biggest advertising business said a number of its companies had been affected and it was now “assessing the situation”.Organizations hit include the Russian oil company Rosneft and the Danish oil and shipping company AP Moller-Maersk.The central bank said an “unknown virus” was to blame for the latest attacks, but did not give further details or say which banks and firms had been affected. Microsoft issued a security fix in March, but Chris Wysopal, chief technology officer at the security firm Veracode, warned that would only be effective if 100 percent of computers on a company’s network were patched, saying that if one computer were infected, the malware could use a backup mechanism to spread to patched computers as well.The hack has already caused widespread disruption across Europe, hitting Ukraine especially hard.”The hacking attack could have led to serious consequences but neither the oil production nor the processing has been affected thanks to the fact that the company has switched to a reserve control system”, the company said.Officials in Ukraine reported serious intrusions of the country’s power grid as well as at banks and government offices, where one senior executive posted a photo of a darkened computer screen and the words, “the whole network is down”. In the United States, the malware affected companies such as the drugmaker Merck and Mondelez International, the owner of food brands such as Oreo and Nabisco. A spokeswoman for Heritage Valley Health System would say only that operational changes had to be made. Ukrainian Railways and the communications company Ukrtelecom were among major enterprises hit, Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan said in a Facebook post.It said it had no information that Swiss companies had been impacted, but said it was following the situation.The attack is described as a ” massive ransomware campaign that is now unfolding worldwide”, according to Bogdan Botezatu, a senior e-threat analyst at Bitdefender.”It’s like somebody sneezing into a train full of people”, Botezatu told The Associated Press.Merck confirmed its computer network was “compromised” as part of the global attack.Botezatu said the new program appeared almost identical to GoldenEye, a variant of a known family of hostage-taking programs known as “Petya”. This particular variant of ransomware leaves a message with a contact email; several messages sent to the address were not immediately returned.