Boeing hit with WannaCry, but says damage is limited: 5 things to know

Boeing, the U.S. aircraft manufacturer, is recovering from a limited malware attack, believed to be WannaCry, that affected a small number of its systems March 28, according to The Seattle Times.

"We've done a final assessment," said Linda Mills, the head of communications for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "The vulnerability was limited to a few machines. We deployed software patches. There was no interruption to the 777 jet program or any of our programs."

Here are five things to know.

1. WannaCry is a strain of ransomware that encrypts its victim computers' data until a ransom is paid, although victims often don't regain access to their data even if hackers receive payment. Once it infects a single computer in a network, it can spread to all Windows computers on that network. WannaCry gained notoriety when it ravaged most of the U.K.'s National Health Service last summer, among other entities.

2. When Boeing first discovered the attack, Chief Engineer at Boeing Commercial Airplanes production engineering Mike VanderWel called for "all hands on deck" to mitigate its risks. Mr. VanderWel initially believed the virus was "metastasizing rapidly out of North Charleston," and he "heard 777 (automated spar assembly tools) may have gone down," Mr. VanderWel wrote in a message to his team. He also expressed concern that the virus could infect equipment used in functional tests of airplanes and potentially "spread to airplane software."

3. However, by late afternoon, the threat seemed to diminish. "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," Ms. Mills told The Seattle Times.

4. Ms. Mills added that Mr. VanderWel's speculations about the 777 production equipment damage turned out not to be true. Instead, the attack was limited to computers in the Commercial Airplanes division — its military and services units had not been affected.

5. A company vice president told Reuters that certain media reports were "overstated and inaccurate."

More articles on cybersecurity:
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