The knock-on effects for the rest of the world might not be limited to intentional reprisals by Russian operatives. Unlike old-fashioned war, cyberwar is not confined by borders and can more easily spiral out of control.
Ukraine has been on the receiving end of aggressive Russian cyber operations for the last decade and has suffered invasion and military intervention from Moscow since 2014. In 2015 and 2016, Russian hackers attacked Ukraine's power grid and turned out the lights in the capital city of Kyiv— unparalleled acts that haven't been carried out anywhere else before or since.
The 2017 NotPetya cyberattack, once again ordered by Moscow, was directed initially at Ukrainian private companies before it spilled over and destroyed systems around the world.
NotPetya masqueraded as ransomware, but in fact it was a purely destructive and highly viral piece of code. The destructive malware seen in Ukraine last week, now known as WhisperGate, also pretended to be ransomware while aiming to destroy key data that renders machines inoperable. Experts say WhisperGate is "reminiscent" of NotPetya, down to the technical processes that achieve destruction, but that there are notable differences. For one, WhisperGate is less sophisticated and is not designed to spread rapidly in the same way. Russia has denied involvement, and no definitive link points to Moscow.
NotPetya incapacitated shipping ports and left several giant multinational corporations and government agencies unable to function. Almost anyone who did business with Ukraine was affected because the Russians secretly poisoned software used by everyone who pays taxes or does business in the country.
The White House said the attack caused more than $10 billion in global damage and deemed it "the most destructive and costly cyberattack in history."
There can be no 'winners' - but are we even ready to defend ourselves against a cyberwar?
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Submitted via IRC for Bytram
The master decryption key for last year's Petya ransomware was made public last week and has since been confirmed to be genuine.
Petya ransomware first emerged in March 2016, distinguishing itself from similar malware by encrypting the Master Boot Record (MBR) instead of individual files. Soon after its initial appearance, Petya was paired with another ransomware, and the pair became available as a service a couple of months later.
The last known variant of the malware was spotted in December 2016 and was referred to as GoldenEye. Dubbed PetrWrap, a ransomware family observed in March this year was using Petya for its nefarious purposes, but wasn't created by Janus Cybercrime Solutions, the name Petya's author goes by.
[...] Kaspersky security researcher Anton Ivanov has already confirmed that the key works for all Petya versions, including GoldenEye.
The release of the master decryption key is great news for those Petya victims who were unable to restore their files to date. Last year, security researchers managed to crack the first two versions of the ransomware, and the only variant not decrypted before was GoldenEye.
"Thanks to the currently published master key, all the people who have preserved the images of the disks encrypted by the relevant versions of Petya, may get a chance of getting their data back," Hasherezade explains.
The newly released master key, however, won't help users hit by NotPetya.
Key is for the original Petya not NotPetya.
...with reliance on all things digital skyrocketing, cyber threats now pose grave, even existential, dangers to corporations as well as the entire digital economy. In response, companies have begun to develop a cyber insurance market, offering corporations a mechanism to manage their exposure to these risks. Yet the prospects for this market now seem uncertain in light of a major court battle. Mondelez International is reportedly suing Zurich Insurance in Illinois state court for refusing to pay its $100 million claim for damages caused by the 2017 NotPetya attack.
Mondelez's claim represents just a fraction of the billions of dollars in collateral damage caused by NotPetya, a destructive, indiscriminate cyberattack of unprecedented scale, widely suspected to have been launched by Russia with the aim of hurting Ukraine and its business partners... According to reports, Zurich apparently rejected Mondelez's claim on the grounds that NotPetya was an act of war and, therefore, excluded from coverage under its policy agreement. If the question of whether and how war risk exemptions apply is left to the courts to decide on a case-by-case basis, this creates a profound source of uncertainty for policyholders about the coverage they obtain.
Many hurdles stand in the way of insurance providing a more robust solution. Data on cyber risks are scarce, and the threat is evolving constantly, often rendering data obsolete before they can be used. That means actuaries lack a credible repository of information to accurately price cyber risk. Moreover, NotPetya and other attacks with cascading effects have reinforced fears of aggregation risk, meaning the potential for a single incident to cause simultaneous losses across multiple policyholders. If Zurich had underwritten even a handful of the major corporations disrupted by the attack, it could have faced catastrophic losses from just one incident. This is a particularly acute concern for reinsurers—companies that provide stop-loss coverage, or protection against unsustainably costly claims, to other insurers—making both reinsurers and primary cyber insurance providers naturally hesitant to support more extensive cyber underwriting. The lack of adequate reinsurance backing means that carriers may become overwhelmed with claims if a systemic cyber incident causes simultaneous losses across many policyholders.