Cyber Attack Roiling Europe Spreads Globally as World Braces for Mass Disruption

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Advertising giant WPP said the firm had also been hit by a "suspected cyber attack" amid reports hackers had caused widespread disruption to companies across the globe.

Danish shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk, which handles one of seven containers shipped globally, says it is working on a recovery plan a day after being hit by global cyber attack Petya. "We are now assessing the situation", Maersk said on Twitter. "We are assessing the situation and are implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible and we regret any inconvenience to our customers".

The carrier is the world's largest - accounting for about 16 percent of the world's shipping fleet.

The official explained that JNPT is trying to help the company, but there is little that others can do as the problem is with the systems.

When the attack began, on Tuesday afternoon in Europe, the company made a decision to take down a number of systems as a precaution.

"There will be some level of impact on the orders we are in the process of transporting right now", he said.

The number of companies and agencies reportedly affected by the ransomware campaign was piling up fast, and the electronic rampage appeared to be rapidly snowballing into a worldwide crisis.

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Maersk said its IT systems were down across "multiple sites and businesses due to a cyber attack" that could affect its global operations.

Russian steelmaker Evraz said its information systems had been hit by a cyber attack but its output was not affected. The attack was subjected to two terminals in the cargo port of Rotterdam and 15 more around the world. Rosneft said cash registers at some of its gas stations have been affected, but didn't offer further details.

United States pharmaceutical company Merck said: "We confirm our company's computer network was compromised today as part of global hack". The New Jersey-based company said it was investigating the attack.

Earlier this week, business consultancy Deloitte said that "In 2016, energy was the industry second most prone to cyber-attacks, with almost three-quarters of USA oil and gas companies experiencing at least one cyber incident".

Zetter said this software used a vulnerability in a network that could spread to all of a company's computers within hours without a user doing anything.

Hospitals, government offices and major multinationals were among the casualties of the ransomware payload, which locks up computer files with all-but-unbreakable encryption and then demands a ransom for its release.

Bitdefender, a Romanian cyber security company said: "A massive ransomware campaign is now unfolding worldwide".

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