Ransomware cyber-attack affects Renault’s production in France and the UK

Article by Christian A., on May 17, 2017

A global scale ransomware cyber-attack has caused several factories of Renault-Nissan Alliance to stop production on Saturday. According to Automotive News, the company’s spokesperson said they have administered “proactive measures” which led to the temporary shutdown of certain production sites. Reuters however confirmed the next day that regular work is slated to resume on Monday particularly in France.

Over the weekend, thousands of computers have been infected with WannaCry ransomware, spreading to almost one hundred countries worldwide. The French carmaker has particularly shut down its Sandouville plant in Northwestern France following the attack. The first sign of threat in Renault’s Sandouville factory occurred when the assembly line’s alarm didn’t work on Saturday. This happened shortly after a ransom demand appeared on their monitors.

Renault-Nissan failed to give a full list of the affected sites but a spokesperson from the UK said that files in Nissan’s Sunderland factory were hit on Friday evening. It didn’t however confirm if the Sunderland plant was shut down afterwards. The UK production facility has about 7,000 employees which manufactures the Infiniti Q30 and QX30, the Nissan Juke, Note, Qashqai and Nissan Leaf. In any case, Renault reassures that almost all factories will be opening today.

The massive WannaCry ransomware attack started Friday evening affecting tens of thousands computers within Russia’s interior ministry, computers in UK hospitals as well as several utilities in Spain. The cyber attack allegedly uses EternalBlue in manipulating the files. Said to have been stolen from the NSA, the software had allegedly developed in order to break into Windows computers’ security. The NSA has refused to comment on the issue.

The cyber criminals duped their victims by sending spam e-mails with malicious malware attachments that seemed to have come with legitimate files, security warnings, job offers and invoices. Microsoft earlier issued a Windows XP patch to prevent the spread of the attack. Evidently, not any of the computers that were affected had installed the software patch issued by the software giant. This could be due to older Microsoft Windows versions that are no longer capable of receiving updates or the companies have postponed the software installation.

The outbreak last weekend is one of the most high profile cases in cyber history in almost ten years. Even Europol director Rob Wainwright was clearly overwhelmed with the cyber attacker’s unprecedented global reach. In the end, a young cybersecurity analyst registered a single web address that eventually stopped the global malware from spreading.

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