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Operations at Major Australian Ports Significantly Disrupted by Cyberattack

A cyberattack on Australian shipping giant DP World, which may have been a ransomware attack, has resulted in serious disruptions at major ports.

DP World cyberattack

DP World, Australia’s largest container terminal and supply chain operator, has been hit by a cyberattack that resulted in significant disruptions at several major Australian ports.

In response to the attack, DP World disconnected its systems from the internet and shut down land operations at ports in Sydney, Melbourne, Fremantle and Brisbane. 

Ships could still unload their containers, but the incident has prevented freight from leaving the port. However, the company can still access sensitive freight at the ports, for instance, if it’s necessary due to a medical emergency, according to Darren Goldie, Australia’s national cyber security coordinator.

The Australian government is assisting the shipping giant in restoring operations. 

“DP World’s IT system remains disconnected from the internet, significantly impacting their operations in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle,” Goldie said on Sunday on X, formerly Twitter. “DP World today advised the Australian Government that the timeframe for interruptions to continue is likely to be a number of days, rather than weeks.”

DP World has not shared any information about the attack itself. While shutting systems down is often done in response to a ransomware attack, The Sydney Morning Herald learned from a source that this was not a ransomware attack

On the other hand, Kevin Beaumont, a reputable researcher, reported that it was in fact a ransomware attack and the threat actor leveraged a recently disclosed Citrix Netscaler vulnerability dubbed CitrixBleed, which has been widely exploited in attacks, for initial access. 

It’s worth pointing out that organizations may say a cyberattack is not a ransomware attack if it does not involve file-encrypting malware. Several major ransomware operations now only steal valuable data from victims to convince them to pay a ransom. 

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“While I understand there is interest in determining who may be responsible for the cyber incident, our primary focus at this time remains on resolving the incident and supporting DP World to restore their operations,” Goldie said.

Related: European Oil Port Terminals Hit by Cyberattack

Related: Japan’s Nagoya Port Suspends Cargo Operations Following Ransomware Attack

Related: Maritime Cyberattack Database Launched by Dutch University

Related: Port of Houston Target of Suspected Nation-State Hack

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a managing 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.

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