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    Cyber-attack causes aircraft parts maker to close indefinitely

    Wednesday, 12 June 2019
    A cyber attack on the airplane parts company Asco left the company shut down on Wednesday. Credit: Christiaan Colen/Flickr

    Asco, a Zaventem-based manufacturer of aircraft parts, has confirmed news that it has shut down operations following a cyber-attack on the company’s servers.

    According to Data News, Asco has shut down its base in Zaventem, as well as operations in other countries, following a breach of security. About 1,000 people are currently on technical unemployment until the company resumes operations. Technical unemployment allows workers to claim temporary unemployment benefits when they are put out of work for a limited period, by circumstances beyond their control. Union representatives Jan Baetens told De Standaard, “when the technical problems are sorted out, we want to look together with management to see if they can’t pay out a supplement to compensate the workers for their loss of earnings.”

    Asco is originally a Belgian company, but was taken over last year by US company Spirit AeroSystems, with the merger being approved by the EU competition authorities in March. The company now has a presence in the US and Canada, and in Germany as well as Belgium.

    Having initially declined to give details other than to confirm the attack, Asco later told Data News that it was dealing with what is called ransomware – a type of malware which shuts down the victim’s system until they pay for a key which will allow them to resume operations.

    Immediately following the attack, Asco called in internal and external experts who are currently busy examining the situation to see what can be done. The company also notified the authorities, and told the paper there is currently no evidence of the theft of information, but that it is taking the situation very seriously.

    Although ransomware attacks are usually only about money, a company like Asco, which has connections in the defence sector, could also be a target for computer espionage.

    The company is expected to be out of action for the rest of today at least, according to Asco HR director Vicky Welvaert.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times