NEWS THIS WEEK: Ransomware worm spreads globally; Apple, Cisco partner on systems to lower cyber insurance costs; British navy ships vulnerable to cyber attack

By Byron V. Acohido

In the news this past week, companies worldwide struggled to recover after a wave of powerful cyber attacks crippled computer systems in Europe, Asia and the United States with a virus similar to the global ransomware assault in May that infected computers. Researchers at Kaspersky Lab said a regional Ukrainian website was hacked and used to distribute the ransomware, which attacked around 2,000 users across the globe. The company said that its preliminary findings suggest the malware is a new kind of ransomware not seen before. The virus downed systems at the site of the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, forcing scientists to manually monitor radiation levels. Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk said it was working to restore its operations. In the United States, pharmaceutical giant Merck reported that its computer network was compromised. France’s biggest bank, BNP Paribas, said that its real estate unit was hit. Jens Stoltenberg, Nato secretary general, said alliance members agreed last year that a cyber attack could trigger Article 5, the mutual defense clause, in the same way as a conventional military assault. Sources: The Washington Post; The (United Kingdom) Telegraph

British parliament deals with aftermath of email hack

Staff at the U.K. Parliament remain hampered after a cyber attack that compromised about 90 lawmakers’ email accounts. To prevent the attackers from gaining access to vital data, Parliament has limited the ability of members to access the Legislature’s computer network remotely. Source: Bloomberg

Breach notification rules expected to be part of defense bill

Lawmakers are expressing confidence that this year’s defense policy bill will include a measure requiring that the defense committees be notified within 48 hours of a sensitive military cyber operation. The measure is intended to boost congressional oversight of the Pentagon’s sensitive cyber operations. Source: The Hill

Apple, Cisco hope arrangement lowers insurance costs

Apple is working with Cisco to help businesses that primarily use gear from both companies to get a discount on cybersecurity insurance premiums, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said. “The thinking we share here is that if your enterprise or company is using Cisco and Apple, the combination of these should make that (cybersecurity) insurance cost significantly less,” Cook said. Source: Reuters

Investment companies check cybersecurity before M&A deals

Companies and investment funds are screening possible acquisitions for cybersecurity risks. “There’s a risk you’re buying an empty shell,” overpaying for a target whose patents have been spied on and copied, or whose sensitive customer data has been stolen, said Michael Bittan, head of Deloitte’s Cyber Risk Services unit in France. “Cybersecurity is not about getting technical, it’s about business impact, and ultimately valuations. It will become a pillar of M&A decisions.” Source: Bloomberg

New British Navy ship’s computers might not be secure

Britain’s new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, could be vulnerable to a cyber attack, as it appears to be using an outdated system. But officers aboard the 3.5 billion pound ($4.5 billion) carrier, which is the biggest and most powerful vessel ever built for the Royal Navy, insist that they are well prepared to defend against such attacks. A team touring the carrier said they saw screens using what appeared to be the outdated 2001 Windows XP operating system. That OS was targeted by the WannaCry ransomware attack in May. Source: The Guardian

Some government sites hacked, show ISIS messages

Government websites were hacked with a message that purports to be supportive of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. A message posted on the website of Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich said, “You will be held accountable Trump, you and all your people for every drop of blood flowing in Muslim countries.” The message, left by “Team System Dz,” also ended, “I love the Islamic state.” Source: CBS News

Analysis gives banks, government agencies poor security grades

Websites run by the country’s largest banks and the U.S. federal government scored the poorest in a security and privacy analysis. The nonprofit Online Trust Alliance anonymously audited more than 1,000 websites for their site security, email security and privacy practices, and found that websites run by the country’s largest banks and the federal government had the most failing grades. Source: NBC News

 Health insurance giant settles data breach case for $115 million

Anthem, the largest health insurance company in the United States, agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit over a 2015 data breach for a record $115 million. The settlement still has to be approved by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, who is scheduled to hear the case on Aug. 17. Anthem isn’t admitting any wrongdoing or that “any individuals were harmed as a result of the cyber attack.” Source: CNet

Illinois wants consumers to give permission on location ID apps

Illinois lawmakers passed a bill requiring app developers, ad networks and other online companies to obtain consumers’ opt-in consent before collecting or disclosing information about their physical locations. The Geolocation Privacy Protection Act appears to be the first location-privacy bill in the country. Source: Media Post

Justice to ask Supreme Court to allow access to emails on overseas servers

The Department of Justice is trying to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a landmark email privacy case that bars the government from accessing emails held by U.S. companies but stored on overseas servers. Justice Department attorneys filed a motion to take the case to the nation’s highest court, claiming a lower federal court “seriously misinterpreted” the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). Source: GovTech

Snapchat says new map feature not a cause for privacy concern 

Snapchat wants to allay privacy concerns over its new Snap Map feature, which lets users share their location with friends on a map. Snapchat says users can control who, if anyone, sees them, as location-sharing is off by default and is optional. Source: Fox News

This article originally appeared on

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone