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Security

WannaCry ransomware reportedly reappears to strike Boeing

The ransomware may be affecting production at the aircraft maker, the Seattle Times reports.

Rob Engelarr/ AFP/Getty Images

Boeing fell victim to the WannaCry virus on Wednesday, the Seattle Times reported, raising concerns the ransomware may impact production at the aircraft maker.

The infection was revealed in a memo sent by Mike VanderWel, chief engineer at Boeing Commercial Airplane production engineering, who called for "all hands on deck," according to the newspaper.

"It is metastasizing rapidly out of North Charleston and I just heard 777 (automated spar assembly tools) may have gone down," VanderWel wrote, adding that he's worried the virus would affect equipment used in functionality tests of airplanes and potentially "spread to airplane software."

A Boeing spokeswoman said some news accounts of the incident were inaccurate and overstated its severity.

"Our cybersecurity operations center detected a limited intrusion of malware that affected a small number of systems," Linda Mills, vice president of Boeing commercial airplanes communications, said in a statement. "Remediations were applied and this is not a production or delivery issue."

Ransomware is malicious software that can lock up your files until you send hackers a ransom payment. It featured in the WannaCry attacks in May and the NotPetya attacks in June, both of which swept through hospitals, banks and governments in several countries. But after July, the rates of ransomware infections dropped sharply, according to a report from Malwarebytes in January.

The attack was made possible by a vulnerability in out-of-date versions of Microsoft Windows first uncovered by the National Security Agency and then released by hackers on the internet in May. Microsoft released a patch for the Windows 7 vulnerability in March, but many people apparently didn't update.

In December, the Trump administration officially accused North Korea of being behind the massive ransomware attack, which held hundreds of thousands of computers hostage earlier this year in the largest cyberextortion scheme ever.

WannaCry was also blamed for a cyberattack that caused outages on several internal Atlanta computer systems, including online bill paying services and some law enforcement data.

Update, 4:20 p.m. PT to add Boeing comment.

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