Hackers strike across Europe, sparking widespread disruption

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Russia’s President Vladimir Putin visits a Rosneft refinery in the Black Sea town of Tuapse in southern Russia October 11, 2013.
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Alexei Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Reuters

Hackers have caused widespread disruption across Europe, hitting Ukraine especially hard.

There’s very little information about who might be behind the disruption, but technology experts who examined screenshots circulating on social media said it bears the hallmarks of ransomware, the name given to programs that hold data hostage by scrambling it until a payment is made.

Company and government officials reported major disruption to the Ukrainian power grid, banks and government offices. Russia’s Rosneft energy company also reported falling victim to hacking, as did shipping company A.P. Moller-Maersk, which said every branch of its business was affected.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Pavlo Rozenko on Tuesday posted a picture of a darkened computer screen to Twitter, saying that the computer system at the government’s headquarters has been shut down.

Saint Gobain, a French construction materials company, said it was also the victim of an attack, and began isolating its computer systems in order to protect data.

“Along with other big companies, St Gobain has been the victim of a cyberattack. As a security measure and in order to protect our data, we have isolated our computer systems,” a company spokesman told Reuters.

The food company Mondelez International said its employees were experiencing technical “difficulties in various geographies,” but weren’t sure if they too were the victim of a cyberattack.

This story is developing.