A computer virus that causes hard drives to melt down and data to leak has been discovered in at least 20 countries and affected at least 5 million people.
The virus, dubbed Eset, has been spreading rapidly among consumers, causing major data losses in Europe, Asia and the United States.
The company that makes the devices, Rapid7, said Monday that it will temporarily shut down its network to prevent further spread.
The outbreak is the first reported worldwide, said Andrew Fennell, a Rapid7 spokesman.
“The spread of Eset is now at an unprecedented level,” Fennill said.
The news came as a shock to many companies that make data-intensive computing equipment.
“This is going to be an enormous wakeup call to a lot of companies, including companies like us,” said Robert D. Kopp, chief executive of the Center for Information Technology Security, a research group.
“We can’t afford to have the same level of panic and worry about this.”
Rapid7’s CEO, David Kappel, said in a statement that the company had made progress on a number of fronts, including installing security measures, updating its software and implementing a system to notify customers if their data was compromised.
But the company is still in a “state of extreme caution,” he said.
“Eset is not contained.
We are still on the hunt for the source of the infection and have a strong sense that it is not an isolated incident.”
He said the company was working with its cybersecurity team to determine who was behind the spread of the virus.
Rapid7 sells hardware and software for PCs, servers, personal computers, and other equipment.
Kappels statement comes a day after Apple said it had begun working with Rapid7 on a new virus-fighting software suite.
“Today, we are making a significant commitment to Rapid7 to improve the security of its products and services,” Apple said in its statement.
Apple, which makes the iPhone and iPad and has about a quarter of the market for personal computers and other consumer electronics, also said it was deploying security measures to help prevent further Eset infections.
Kaspersky Lab, a Moscow-based cybersecurity firm, reported the virus on Sunday.
It said the new virus was being used in Russia to steal personal information, including credit card numbers, passwords and other sensitive information.
The malware is spread by exploiting vulnerabilities in the operating system, which allows hackers to gain access to computers without being detected.
Krippa, the Rapid7 executive, said he didn’t know whether the virus had been detected in other countries.
“What we can say is that it has not been detected globally,” Krippas statement said.
He said Rapid7 had installed additional security measures in its data centers in the U.S., Europe and Asia to prevent the spread.
“It is important to note that we have been working hard with Rapid 7 to reduce the number of people who are infected and to limit the risk of further spread,” he added.
“Rapid7’s software has been continuously tested to protect against this virus, and it has shown that it can be easily and quickly detected and remediated.”
Rapid 7 has been the target of a cyberattack last year that left one of its data-center computers inoperable, Kripparas statement noted.
That attack, which took place when the company owned the network, shut down the data-centers and took the company offline for months.
Rapid 7 said Monday it had already spent more than $1 billion on defense and surveillance systems.
“As a company that is committed to ensuring that we remain at the forefront of technology security, we have decided to invest additional resources in a cybersecurity strategy to ensure our systems are not vulnerable to malicious activity,” Kappell said in the statement.
Kapps company said it is working to upgrade its systems and is now fully aware of the new Eset virus.
Kippa, Koppa and other security experts said it’s impossible to be certain of the source, because the virus is still spreading.
“You never know what is going on.
But we do know that Rapid7 is being attacked at a higher rate,” said John Lippmann, a senior researcher with the security firm FireEye.
“They are doing a great job.”
The Eset attack is different from one that Krippans company recently was hit with, Kippas statement continued.
“Our goal is to be proactive, not reactive,” Kipps statement said, noting the company has put in place measures to block other cyberattacks from spreading.
Rapid Seven said it will begin implementing a new security program that will allow it to detect the virus and prevent it from spreading further.
The U.K.-based company said in an e-mail Monday that Rapid 7 is currently the victim of a “high-value attack.”
The e-mails from Rapid7 and its partners, including Kripp, indicate that the