EnergyWatch

Oil company attacked by ransomware

Monday, all administrative work at state-owned Mexican oil company Pemex was halted by a ransomware attack.

Edgard Garrido/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix
Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

Mexican Pemex is the latest cyberattack victim among major companies. The state-owned oil company was at the receiving end of a so-called ransomware attack Monday, where hackers infiltrate and often completely take over companies' computer systems to extort them, write several media including Reuters.

Pemex is already struggling with piles of conventional problems such as high debt and lowered production. But on Monday, the company's administrative personnel were temporarily set out of action. According to the news agency's sources, the company was unable to process payments and all personnel was asked to go offline and make backups of all critical information.

However, the oil company reported Monday that the attack had been "neutralized" and that it had affected less than 5 percent of the company's computers. Pemex furthermore stated that the cyberattack neither affected output nor stockpiles.

 

The attack was carried out using the Trojan horse Ryuk spread through email and which upon activation creates a new administrative account with full access to the computer. Once in, the account can circumvent network settings, delete backups and disable anti virus software protection and thus gain complete control over the system.

In recent months, reports about Ryuk attacks have been on the rise. However, only few victims have publicly disclosed such attacks, including utility Onwase in the US state of North Carolina.

English Edit: Ida Jacobsen

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