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Cybersecurity

Chinese police and petrol stations hit by ransomware attack

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 May, 2017, 6:08pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 May, 2017, 8:00am

A ransomware attack plaguing computers around the world has spread into China, paralysing an online payment system and forcing one police branch to go offline, mainland media reported on Sunday.

In response, CNCERT, the national computer emergency response body, urged users of the Windows computer systems to install a cybersecurity patch to fend off attacks from the malware.

Public security departments and universities around the country issued similar alerts on social media.

The ransomware attacks have spread to roughly 100 countries, seizing control of affected computers until the victims pay a ransom.

Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin may be targeted in the fight against ransomware

In Chongqing, China National Petroleum Corp petrol stations could only accept cash payments after the company’s computer system came under attack, according to Shanghai-based Thepaper.cn.

An unidentified CNPC employee in Yuzhong district said problems started with their network early on Saturday.

“Our customers can’t pay by debit cards or any mobile payment systems but we can still issue receipts,” the employee was quoted as saying.

Similar problems were reported at petrol stations in Wuhan, Hubei province.

In Shandong province, police officers in Lanshan district, Linyi, had to unplug all of their computers when the ransomware struck, Thepaper.cn reported.

Severe disruptions also occurred at several mainland universities, the report said.

Wu Xingyong, from Yunnan Agricultural University’s cybercentre, said eight students there had been hit by the ransomware.

‘Asleep at the wheel’: cybersecurity experts continue tirade against Hong Kong firms as ransomware attacks proliferate

Wu said the university took precautions by shutting down mobile internet and internet connections on campus, leaving only the intranet system running.

China News Service reported that a Hangzhou Normal University student was watching a video clip online when a ransom notice popped up on his desktop.

The notice was in Chinese, Korean, Japanese and English, and said the student had one week to pay US$300 worth of bitcoins to unlock the computer or lose all of the documents on it.

“One of my roommates was hit with the same virus. We were using the same campus internet connection, the kind that cuts off all connections in the evening,”the student said.

The Beijing Times also reported that similar infections have been reported at top universities including Tsinghua University and Peking University.