Arup attacked by “ransomware” in Hong Kong

Global engineering and design consultant Arup had its computer system in Hong Kong attacked by "ransomware" in March, the Hong Kong government has revealed.

The Highways Department told The South China Morning Post this month that it was alerted to the cyber attack at Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong on 2 March.

The attack appears similar to the mass attack on 12 May that hit 150 countries, and caused parts of the UK’s health system to shut down.

The design firm is contracted to work on part of the multibillion-dollar Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge. Project files were locked and deleted, the department said, but it insisted that the project was still on course.

"A server at their office was attacked by ‘ransomware’ software and some of the files were encrypted for ransom from staff," a department spokesman said told the Post.

The spokesman said staff immediately cut off the internet connection to the server and reported it to police, and that private personnel information had not been compromised because it was not stored on the hacked server.

"The Highways Department has already requested the on-site engineers and contractor to update their internet security software on the office computer networks so as to increase online security," the spokesman told the Post, adding: "The incident has not affected the progress of the contract."

A police source said it was being treated as a case of blackmail and is being handled by the cyber security and technology crime bureau, the newspaper reported.

Opposition politician Lam Cheuk-ting, of the Democratic Party, said the department should have informed the public of the cyber attack immediately, not two months later.

"The public has every right to know any irregularities concerning this mega bridge. It gives us the impression that the government has something to hide," he told the Post.

Image: Precast bridge deck segments are installed on 2 March, 2017 for the turnaround facility of Hong Kong Link Road, part of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau sea link scheme (Hong Kong Highways Department)

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