How a Cyberattack Impacts Global Supply Chains

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Maersk Line may have absorbed the greatest impact from the June 2017 Petya virus attack, but the shipping and logistics company was far from the only one affected. In fact, this cyber attack affected countless vendors and customers, ultimately disrupting supply chains around the globe. Learn more about the nature of the Petya cyber attack and find out what Maersk has done to limit the impact from future attacks.

How the Petya Virus Attack Affected Maersk

The Petya virus, which struck on June 27, was a ransomware attack. This type of virus essentially locks a user’s computer unless the attacker receives a specified payment by a certain date. If the attacker doesn’t receive payment, he or she can delete all of the files on the device or leave it encrypted, rendering the system useless. In some cases, even after receiving payment, the attacker may still refuse to return control of the device to the user.

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Ransomware has the ability to shut down entire computer systems, as it can spread quickly. As soon as the Petya virus infiltrated a single computer at Maersk, it quickly spread through the company’s entire network. Countless systems were affected, including business units ranging from container shipping to oil and gas production to port operations. To stop the cyber attack from spreading, Maersk shut down systems around the globe.

How Worldwide Supply Chains Felt the Aftereffects of the Cyberattack

Like most logistics companies, Maersk depends on numerous global partners to keep its operations running. In turn, port operators, manufacturers, and logistics companies depend on Maersk to keep the supply chain operating efficiently. Since Maersk handles one out of every seven containers shipped anywhere in the world, the company’s shutdown had a drastic effect on global supply chains.

During the Petya cyber attack, Maersk ceased booking client shipments and limited or stopped operations at three of the largest ports in the world. Though the shipping company reacted quickly to the attack, Petya still caused substantial financial losses and significant shipment delays. Since Maersk has such an extensive global footprint, customers everywhere experienced the aftereffects.

How Maersk Has Protected Itself From Future Attacks

Though Maersk resorted to tracking shipments and cataloging cargo manually during the ransomware attack, the company has since restored its digital systems and implemented additional security measures. Nearly three weeks after the attack, Maersk announced that it had analyzed its operating systems and anti-virus software applications to determine more effective methods for protecting its systems from future attacks.

While this may be welcome news for the company’s partners and customers, it could take Maersk months or even years to recover from this attack. In addition to financial losses, the shipping company has suffered from a widespread loss of trust, with many customers reportedly refusing to open emails from Maersk in order to avoid becoming the next Petya victim.

Maersk executives remain optimistic about the company’s response to the attack, its ongoing recovery, and its improved security measures. In the coming months, the shipping company may need to reassess how customers have ultimately responded to the situation and build partnerships that give the shipping giant greater flexibility in case of future cyber attacks.

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