Tech

Aluminum producer Hydro hit by cyber attack

OSLO (Reuters) – Norsk Hydro, one of the world’s largest producers of aluminum, was battling on Tuesday to contain a cyber attack which hit its production facilities, sending shares lower.

FILE PHOTO: Concrete pipes connecting the bauxite residue deposit to its water treatment station are pictured at the alumina refinery Alunorte, owned by Norwegian company Norsk Hydro ASA, in Barcarena, Para state, Brazil March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/File Photo

The attack, which began on Monday evening and escalated overnight, affected the company’s IT systems for most of its activities. The firm’s giant aluminum smelters in countries including Norway, Qatar and Brazil were still producing but operating manually.

“Hydro is working to contain and neutralize the attack, but does not yet know the full extent of the situation,” the company said in a statement.

The event was a rare case of an attack on industrial operations in Norway. The last publicly-acknowledged cyber attack in the Nordic country was on software firm Visma, when hackers working on behalf of Chinese intelligence breached its network to steal secrets from its clients.

Companies and governments have become increasingly concerned about the damage hackers can cause to industrial systems and critical national infrastructure following a number of high-profile cyber attacks in recent years.

In 2017, attacks later blamed by the United States on Russia and North Korea caused millions of dollars of damage to companies worldwide, crippling computers in industries from shipping to sweet making. Moscow and Pyongyang have denied the allegations.

In Ukraine, meanwhile, authorities have seen hackers knock electricity grids and transport systems offline, and an attack on Italian oil services firm Saipem late last year destroyed more than 300 of the company’s computers.

FROM CARS TO CONSTRUCTION

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 the construction industry.

The Norwegian state agency in charge of cyber security said Hydro contacted them early on Tuesday and that it was assisting the company.

“We are … sharing this information with other sectors in Norway and with our international partners,” said a spokeswoman for the Norwegian National Security Authority (NSM). She declined to comment on the nature of the attack.

Norsk Hydro’s main website page was unavailable on Tuesday, although some of the web pages belonging to subsidiaries could still be accessed. The company was updating on the situation on its Facebook page.

Hydro’s shares fell 3.4 percent in early trade before a partial recovery to trade down 0.9 percent by 1003 GMT. It was still lagging the Oslo benchmark index, which was up 0.6 percent.

Hydro, which has 36,000 employees in 40 countries, recorded sales of 159.4 billion crowns ($18.7 billion) last year, with a net profit of 4.3 billion crowns.

Additional reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis in Oslo, Jack Stubbs and Barbara Lewis in London; editing by Keith Weir and Emelia Sithole-Matarise


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