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Boeing’s systems nearly brought down by return of WannaCry ransomware

Boeing has become the latest high-profile company to be affected by the WannaCry ransomware debacle, according to reports. 

The Seattle Times, the plane maker’s local newspaper, claims that a number of Boeing computers recently fell victim to the ransomware, which is easily avoided with patches for Windows 7 and Windows XP that have been available for more than a year. 

Yesterday, one of the plane maker’s employees circulated an emergency memo indicating that its systems showed signs of the WannaCry ransomware.

Mike VanderWel, chief engineer of Boeing commercial airplane engineer division, warned that the ransomware could eventually “spread to airplane software”.

He continued: “It is metastasizing rapidly out of North Charleston and I just heard 777 (automated spar assembly tools) may have gone down.”

Looking for urgent help to keep the virus under control, VanderWel called for “all hands on deck”.

There was no interruption to the 777 jet program or any of our programmes

He added: “We are on a call with just about every VP in Boeing.”

The malware hit Boeing on Wednesday, causing a scare throughout the company. Employees initially worried that the ransomware could end up infecting its airplane equipment systems. 

By the end of the day, though, the company claimed that it had the situation under control and urged customers not to panic.

Speaking to The Seattle Times, Boeing head of communications Linda Mills said that the company had completed “a final assessment” to determine the impact of the outbreak. 

Mills said the “vulnerability was limited to a few machines”, with the firm deploying software patches within a matter of hours. She added: “There was no interruption to the 777 jet program or any of our programmes.”

She admitted that it took hours for the company to get to grips with the crisis, explaining: “It took some time for us to go to our South Carolina operations, bring in our entire IT team and make sure we had the facts.”

“Our cybersecurity operations centre detected a limited intrusion of malware that affected a small number of systems. Remediations were applied and this is not a production and delivery issue.”

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