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UAE’s telecoms authority warns users about Petya ransomware virus

UAE’s telecoms authority warns users about Petya ransomware virus

No cases of the virus have been reported in the UAE so far

The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has confirmed that no cases of the rapidly spreading ransomware virus Petya have been reported in the country so far.

The virus, which began spreading globally on Tuesday, has breached thousands of computers and servers around the world including in the Ukraine, France, Denmark, Spain, the UK, Russia and the US.

Petya spreads through networks that use Microsoft Windows, freezes users’ computers and demands that a ransom amount of $300 be paid in the digital Bitcoin currency.

The source of the virus is not yet known, but according to Cisco, the attack is believed to have started in the Ukraine, possibly from software update systems for a Ukrainian tax accounting package called MeDoc.

This is the second major global ransomware attack in the past two months, following the WannaCry attack in early May.

“Since data is the new oil in the digital economy, ransomware attacks that restrict access to important data until the attacker is paid are becoming increasingly common,” said Sebastien Pavie, Enterprise and Cybersecurity director for MEA and Turkey at Gemalto.

“Many companies, including healthcare and utilities providers were willing to pay ransoms to avoid losing data or having systems shut down, showing that this type of attack is having an impact on businesses.

“However, neither businesses nor individuals should pay ransoms to unlock any files that have been affected by a ransomware attack, as this incentivises and rewards these kinds of attacks. In order to prevent becoming a victim of a ransomware attack, data should be backed-up and encrypted, and stored away from the network the rest of the data is stored on. This means that, in the event that a ransomware attack locks someone out of their files, they will have secure copies available. By doing this, the victim would be able to return to business-as-usual quickly and efficiently.”

The TRA has also issued the following advisory to avoid exposure to the virus in the UAE –

* Always keep a backup copy

* Avoid opening links and files from an unknown source

* Use the original anti-virus programs

* Update the software of your phone and computer constantly

* Avoid surfing untrusted sites

In case of exposure to the virus, the TRA has urged users to note the following steps –

* Do not obey the hackers, there is no guarantee that paying the ransom will lead to the decryption of the files

* If the attacked device is the company’s computer, inform the Information Technology (IT) department immediately

* If the attacked device is your personal laptop, take it to the authorised agent

* Don’t open any untrusted emails

* Update the software of all your personal devices

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