The global cyber attack, presenting itself as a ransomware virus known as ‘Petya’, that has struck numerous multinational corporations in the last 24 hours, and threatened the destruction of their data, is being attributed to faults in a Ukrainian tax software package.
The software, provided by Ukrainian developers MeDoc, has been identified by cyber security firms, including Microsoft, as the root of the attack, as computers and companies downloading the popular package were silently infected and ransomed.
MeDoc itself denies that its product was the problem, but Microsoft has confirmed that the package is at the centre of the investigation into the Petya attack.
“Microsoft now has evidence that a few active infections of the ransomware initially started from the legitimate MeDoc updater process,” the company said in a technical blog post.
The virus, named for the Petya ransomware it imitates, demands $395 in the form of digital currency bitcoins or the virus will destroy all of the company’s data. However, some businesses have reported that data has been destroyed even after payments were made.
Australia has been affected by the attack along with 63 other nations, with chocolate manufacturers Cadbury seeing factory function affected and law firm DLA Piper coming under attack as well.
Europol states that the attack is more sophisticated than the Wannacry attack last month, which notably involved the reputed theft of the new Pirates of the Caribbean film for ransom, but officials have stated the virus is now under control within the Ukraine.
It is not yet clear how the Petya virus was able to compromise the MeDoc package but investigations by European authorities are ongoing.
This latest spate of cyber attacks comes after the ACCC found Australia had endured a 30% rise in cyber crime and online scams in 2016, which will serve only to increase concerns about Australia’s security.