Maersk’s container lines transport about 15% of the world’s seaborne manufactured goods trade © 123RF
Maersk’s container lines transport about 15% of the world’s seaborne manufactured goods trade © 123RF

Ransomware attack halts Maersk shipping

posted by Su-San Sit
29 June 2017

The world’s largest container shipper Maersk Line has been hit by the global Petya cyber attack, preventing it from accepting new orders and delaying cargoes.

A.P Moller-Maersk Group said the cyber extortion, which has disrupted businesses around the globe, has also led to congestion at some of the 76 ports by its APM Terminals unit, including the US, India, Spain and Netherlands.

When the attack began on Tuesday afternoon in Maersk's European operations, the company shut down systems across its operations to contain it. 

Vincent Clerc, Maersk Line chief commercial officer, told Reuters that the attack would have a wide-ranging knock-on effect. 

“Right now, at this hour, we’re not able to take new orders,” he said.

“It will have an impact on vessels or cargo that loaded yesterday, today and maybe also tomorrow.”

Clerc added that customers with goods in transit should expect delays.

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

“I don’t think this is of a magnitude that it impacts global trade—it will impact what we do.”

Clerc said for now Maersk was using alternative channels to communicate with customers and no data had been lost.

A terminal operated by Maersk at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, a facility near Mumbai, which is India’s biggest container port, was unable to load or unload because of an inability to identify which shipment belonged to whom, according to the Guardian

The attack, similar to the WannaCry virus reported by SM last month, reached Asia after spreading from Europe to the US, hitting businesses, port operators and government systems.

Hackers told victims of the attack to pay $300 in cryptocurrency per infected computer to unlock their systems.

Maersk’s container lines transport about 15% of the world’s seaborne manufactured goods trade. The attack comes just as the company has started rolling out a new digitalisation strategy to modernise the industry.

Clerc said the company had not paid any ransom money to the hackers.

“What we understand is that the channels the hackers have chosen for ransom money has been shut down by governments, so that is contained now,” he said. 

He added Maersk had no precise timeline for when it expected business to return to normal and said it was too early to assess the economic impact. 

Meanwhile, US courier FedEx's subsidiary TNT Express has had its delivery and communications disrupted by the cyber attack.

TNT Express, based in The Netherlands, operates in more than 200 countries and was acquired by FedEx last year. 

FedEx confirmed the attack on its website and said while service had been “significantly affected” by the virus no data had been lost. 

“While TNT Express operations and communications systems have been disrupted, no data breach is know to have occurred,” it said.

“TNT Express domestic [US] country and regional network services are largely operational but slowed.

“We are also experiencing delays in TNT Express inter-continental services at this time.”

 The company added that all other FedEx operations and companies were unaffected.

Read more: Case study: Recycling for revenue at Maersk

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