Aluminum Maker Under Attack

Tuesday, March 19, 2019 @ 12:03 PM gHale

Norsk Hydro, one of the world’s largest aluminum producers, was in the process Tuesday of working to contain what it is saying is a cyber attack that halted parts of its production.

The company shut several metal extrusion and rolled products plants, which transform aluminum ingots into components for car makers, builders and other industries, while its giant smelters in Norway were largely operating on a manual basis, according to a Reuters report.

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“This is a classic ransomware attack,” Chief Financial Officer Eivind Kallevik told a news conference, adding the company had not identified the hackers. “The situation is quite severe.”

The Norwegian National Security Authority (NNSA), the state agency in charge of cybersecurity, said the attack used a virus known as LockerGoga, a relatively new strain of ransomware which encrypts computer files and demands payment to unlock them.

Kallevik, who could not turn on his desktop computer or access files, would not say whether a specific sum had been asked for. However, when asked if the company planned to pay to unlock its systems, he said the intention was to restore them from backup servers.

“We have good back-up systems and we have plans on how to restore it,” he said.

The attack began in the United States Monday night and escalated overnight, hitting IT systems across most of the company’s activities and forcing staff to issue updates via social media.

“It is too early to indicate the operational and financial impact, as well as timing to resolve the situation,” Hydro said in a regulatory filing via the Oslo Stock Exchange.

However, Kallevik said the financial impact was limited so far.

“It is mostly direct labor: Some of the activities that we use computers to do, today we use manual labor. We have to add some more people,” he said in the Reuters report.

Haakon Bergsjoe, head of NNSA’s National Cyber Security Centre, said there were no reports of other companies affected on Tuesday. All major Norwegian companies had been warned in the wake of the attack on Hydro, he said in the Reuters report.

Hydro makes products across the aluminum value chain, from the refinement of alumina raw material via metal ingots to bespoke components used in cars and construction.

The company’s hydroelectric power plants were running as normal on isolated systems unaffected by the outage, as was the alumina operation and smelters located outside Norway, including in Qatar and Brazil, Hydro said.



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