Hackers known as the Winnti Group were behind ransomware attacks on Taiwan’s two largest fuel suppliers, the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau said on Friday, adding that similar attacks on 10 domestic companies are likely in the next few days.
On May 4, state-run CPC Corp, Taiwan announced that its computer system had been infected with ransomware, causing payment issues at gas stations.
Formosa Petrochemical Corp reported similar issues the following day, and shut down its computer systems.
Powertech Technology Inc, a Hsinchu-based semiconductor firm, also reported a ransomware attack on May 5.
The bureau said that the Winnti Group, which is believed to be from China, likely had access to the firms’ computer systems for months before it carried out the attacks.
Liu Chia-jung (劉家榮), deputy director of the bureau’s Information Security Workstation, said that the hackers gained access to the companies’ Active Directory — a service for managing computers and other devices within a network — and used its task scheduling function to distribute the ransomware throughout each company’s computer network.
When employees’ computers tried to access the network at the start of the work day, a message appeared stating that their files had been encrypted and demanding a ransom of US$3,000 to unlock them, Liu said.
The bureau has asked international authorities investigating six German and Swiss e-mail accounts believed to be connected to the crimes for help, Liu said.
It has also asked US authorities to investigate a US-based company from which the group rented a virtual private server.
The bureau said it had information that the hackers planned to carry out similar attacks on 10 other Taiwanese companies in the next few days, but added that it did not know which are being targeted.
The bureau said that it has advised companies on several steps they could take to improve their digital security.
CPC, which local media reported was suffering computer issues again on Thursday, released a statement on Friday blaming the issue on an operational error, and said that it had strengthened its information security procedures following the May 4 attack.
Taiwan might be China’s next target after it has “walled off” Hong Kong from the rest of the world with its new national security legislation, Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology fellow Wu Jieh-min (吳介民) said on Thursday. At a seminar organized by the Economic Democracy Union, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, the Hong Kong Outlanders and the Judicial Reform Foundation, Wu said that the legislation is simultaneously a fig leaf concealing Beijing’s autocratic rule in Hong Kong and a figurative “Berlin Wall,” denying democratic countries access to Hong Kong. Wu said it is evident that Taiwan would be China’s next target. The
SAFETY CONCERNS: A construction company working nearby admitted to negligence in the incident, and is to pay a fine and other expenses related to damages Residents of homes adjacent to an alleyway in New Taipei City’s Yonghe District (永和) on Saturday were forced to evacuate their homes after the road collapsed, the New Taipei City government said yesterday. An 80m by 4m area in an alleyway on Wenhua Road (文化路) collapsed at 10:39am near an apartment building construction site where work was being done on the project’s foundation. The incident also ruptured an underground gas pipe and tilted several buildings in the area. Residents would not be able to return to their homes until tomorrow or Wednesday, when repairs are expected to be finished, the city government said. Workers
YOUNGEST PATIENT: Cases of botulism have been only sporadically reported over the past few years, with two in 2015, six in 2016 and none in the past three years The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday reported the nation’s first case of infant botulism this year, a four-month-old boy in northern Taiwan, as well as five new cases of Japanese encephalitis confirmed last week. The boy was introduced to homemade solid food in the middle of last month, but began to experience constipation and loss of appetite on June 23, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Deputy Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉) said, adding that he was taken to the hospital when he developed a fever and shortness of breath on June 25. In the hospital, the boy also experienced a rapid heartbeat, limb
CHALLENGER DEEP: Lin Ying-Tsong was invited by Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo to join him on a 10-hour long trip in the company’s submersible Taiwanese-American Lin Ying-Tsong (林穎聰) last month became the first person from Asia and the 12th in human history to dive into the deepest part on Earth, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. Lin, 45, an expert in deep sea acoustics with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts, joined US adventurer and Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo, 54, on June 22 in a descent to the central pool of the Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the trench, which lies at a depth of more than 10,900m. The pair made the descent in a submersible named Limiting Factor, a US$37