Kaspersky Lab notified Tuesday that a global ransomware outbreak began "just a few hours ago," and "it looks to be as big as the WannaCry story that broke not so long ago."
The WannaCry ransomware hit targets around the world in mid-May, by initiating the attack through an SMBv2 remote code execution in Microsoft Windows software operating system and by encrypting data in personal computers with the extension ".WCRY" added to the filenames.
"It's not yet clear what exactly the new ransomware is," acknowledged Kaspersky, a multinational cybersecurity and anti-virus services provider, in a blog posting, adding that "Kaspersky Lab experts are now investigating this new threat, and as soon they come up with solid facts, we'll update this post."
However, a screen shot of a computer hit by the new ransomware indicates that the attacker did use data encryption, as in the WannaCry case, to extort payment equivalent to 300 U.S. dollars in Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency, for what the attacker called a "decryption key."
For the time being, while it is spreading around the world, the ransomware seems to primarily target businesses in Ukraine, Russia and Western Europe.
"Few hours were enough for several large companies from different countries to report infection, and the magnitude of the epidemic is likely to grow even more," said Kaspersky Lab.
For customers of its security products, such as Kaspersky Security Network, the company recommended turning on real-time monitoring components, manually updating the antivirus databases, and installing all security updates for Windows.