(also Petya ransomware)
Petya is a family of encrypting ransomware that emerged in 2016. This destructive malware targets Microsoft Windows-based systems, denying users access to the system and demanding ransom in Bitcoin from victims to restore their access. Unlike traditional ransomware, which encrypts files individually, Petya takes it a step further by encrypting the master file table (MFT) and replacing the computer’s master boot record (MBR) with malicious code, rendering the entire system unusable.
- Petya attack 2016: Petya was initially unleashed in 2016, targeting various companies, primarily in Ukraine. The ransomware spread via spear-phishing emails containing malicious Word documents.
- NotPetya attack 2017: A variant of Petya, known as NotPetya or ExPetya, was released in 2017. Unlike Petya, NotPetya was designed for disruption, not financial gain, because it permanently encrypted files on the system.
Implications and risks of Petya
- There are virtually no advantages of Petya from a user’s perspective because it is destructive malware.
- Financial loss: Victims of Petya face potential financial loss from either paying the ransom or the cost of restoring their systems.
- Data loss: As Petya can permanently encrypt files, victims risk losing their data forever.
- Disruption of services: In an organizational setting, Petya can cause significant disruption of services and operations.
Dealing with Petya
- Regular backups: Regularly back up important files to an offline storage medium to reduce the risk of data loss.
- Updated antivirus software: Keep your antivirus software updated to detect and block Petya.
- Be cautious of phishing attempts: Petya often spreads through phishing emails. Always verify the legitimacy of any email before opening it or downloading attachments.