Security Experts:

Maersk Reinstalled 50,000 Computers After NotPetya Attack

Jim Hagemann Snabe, chairman of Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller–Maersk, revealed this week at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland that the company was forced to reinstall software on nearly 50,000 devices following the NotPetya attack.

In a panel on securing a common future in cyberspace, Hagemann Snabe, former co-CEO of SAP, said the NotPetya malware had hit a large number of systems housed by the company.

According to Hagemann Snabe, Maersk’s IT team had to reinstall software on its entire infrastructure, including 45,000 PCs and 4,000 servers, totaling 2,500 applications.

The mammoth task took only 10 days to complete, during which time the company manually coordinated operations. This was not easy considering that Maersk is the largest container shipping company in the world and it’s responsible for roughly 20 percent of world trade. Hagemann Snabe noted that a ship carrying 10,000-20,000 containers docks into a port every 15 minutes.

Maersk employees managed to manually process 80 percent of the work volume, but the NotPetya incident still cost the company $250-$300 million.

In the aftermath of the cyberattack, the shipping giant realized that its cybersecurity capabilities had been only “average,” but Hagemann Snabe says the company is now determined to improve cybersecurity to the point where it “becomes a competitive advantage.”

“We need a very significant increase in our level of understanding of this problem,” Hagemann Snabe told the panel. “It is time to stop being naive when it comes to cybersecurity. I think many companies will be caught if they are naive – even size does not help you. I think it is very important that we are not just reactive but proactive, and I think we can’t be average, we got to be the best we can.”

Hagemann Snabe believes his company was probably collateral damage in a state-sponsored attack.

The NotPetya malware outbreak, which U.S. and Ukrainian government agencies have attributed to Russia, affected tens of thousands of systems in more than 65 countries. Many of the victims were located in Ukraine, the home of a tax software firm whose product was used as the main attack vector.

Researchers initially believed NotPetya (also known as PetrWrap, exPetr, GoldenEye and Diskcoder.C) was a piece of ransomware. However, a closer analysis revealed that it was actually a wiper.

In addition to Maersk, the list of major organizations hit by the incident includes Rosneft, Merck, FedEx-owned TNT Express, Mondelez International, Nuance Communications, Reckitt Benckiser, and Saint-Gobain. These companies reported that the attack had cost them tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars.

Related: Bad Rabbit Linked to NotPetya, but Not as Widespread

Related: NotPetya Attack Had Significant Impact on Merck Revenue

Related: FedEx May Have Permanently Lost Data Encrypted by NotPetya

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.