Russian banks, ministries hit by mass cyber attack

 A general view of the Sberbank building in Moscow, Russia, on March 24, 2015.
A general view of the Sberbank building in Moscow, Russia, on March 24, 2015.PHOTO: EPA

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia's central bank said on Saturday (May 13) the country's banking system was hit by a mass cyber attack, as several ministries and the railway system also reported attempted breaches.

The central bank's IT attack monitoring centre "detected mass distribution of harmful software of the first and second type," according to a central bank statement quoted by Russian news agencies.

"It did not detect instances of compromise", of the systems of the country's banks, the central bank added.

Late Friday, attacks were reported by various Russian government agencies, including the interior ministry, which said 1,000 of its computers were hit by a virus, which was then localised.

Around the world, computers were affected in dozens of countries by the spreading WannaCry ransomware which locks users' files and demands money to restore them.

Russian health ministry aide Nikita Odintsov said on Twitter that the ministry had "quickly thwarted" the attempted attacks.

Russia's largest bank Sberbank said in a statement carried by news agencies that its systems "detected in time attempts to penetrate bank infrastructure".

"The bank's network has provisions for defending from such attacks. There was no penetration of the system by viruses," the statement said.

The Russian emergency ministry said it had "blocked all attempts of viral attacks on its computers," news agencies reported.

Russia's state railway monopoly Russian Railways said it had also "localised" an attack, without elaborating on the extent of damage.

"Passenger and cargo transportation is carried on as usual," it said.