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Pemex Is Still Suffering From Cyberattack Fallout

The communications system of Mexico’s oil giant Pemex is still suffering the lingering effects of a cyberattack that occurred earlier this month, sources from the company told Bloomberg.

A ransomware attack caused administrative operations at Pemex to grind to a halt on November 10, with the company announcing the resumption of work soon after, saying the actual attack had been prevented.

The attackers used the Ryuk ransomware, which specifically targets companies with annual revenues of between $500 million and $1 billion. The Ryuk ransomware gets dropped into a network by another malware and soon after begins encrypting files. Yet the encryption begins with a delay, which gives the attackers time to study their target and how much money they could extort from it.

Now, employees are saying that for some of them, internet access is still limited, there are computer files that are still not accessible and that they are having trouble receiving emails coming from addresses outside the company, Bloomberg reports. Computers are slower, too, because of patches the company’s IT department has put in to thwart other attacks.

The Pemex attack spurred U.S. companies into action, too. The Houston Chronicle reported this week that oil and gas businesses operating in Mexico have moved to shore up their cyber defences. Among the measures deployed, according to the report, are blocking emails from Pemex and not using flash drives from the Mexican company.

While Pemex has insisted that it stopped the attack from unfolding, Mexican media have been reporting the hack was successful and hackers demanded a ransom of 860 bitcoin, worth about $6 million, to remove the malware.

Oil and gas companies are a natural target for cybercriminals, especially the bigger ones among them even if they are not exactly turning in a profit, like Pemex. The Mexican major reported a loss of $4.6 billion for the third quarter of the year on the back of lower export and domestic sales revenues.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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