Ransomware hits major Chinese shipping company COSCO

Sarah Carter
Sarah Carter

30 July 2018


Chinese shipping giant China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) has suffered a major ransomware-related outage affecting its Americas operations.

The infection has knocked out some electronic communications at several of its North American locations. The Windows-based ransomware disabled both local email and phone services, forcing the firm's staff to use Twitter and free Yahoo email addresses to handle support queries during the outage.

In a statement, COSCO said a "local network breakdown" had hit its American region. It said it had isolated the offices as it investigated.

The Shanghai-based shipping giant appears to have responded quickly to the ransomware outbreak. When it was detected, Cosco said it proactively opted "to isolate internal networks to carry out technical inspections on global scale."

"For safety precautions, we have shut down the connections with other regions for further investigations," state-owned COSCO said in a customer alert. "So far, all the vessels of our company are operating as normal, and our main business operation systems are performing stably."

COSCO reassured its customers that it is trying to make a full and quick recovery and that business operations in North America are still being carried out.

Cosco has offices in 27 North American and South American countries, but not all of them are affected. "The network failures affected areas include the United States, Canada, Panama, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Chile and Uruguay," the company said.

China Ocean Shipping is China's largest carrier of containerised goods and the fourth largest of these maritime operators in the world.

This is not the first time that a large shipping business has been affected by malware. Last year, shipping giant Maersk revealed that the NotPetya ransomware had led to a $300m loss at the company.