One of the world’s biggest aluminium producers has been hit by a major cyber-attack affecting production systems, according to reports.

Norwegian firm, Norsk Hydro, said it had called in national security authorities to help repel the attack, which appears to have started overnight local time.

“IT systems in most business areas are impacted and Hydro is switching to manual operations as far as possible,” it said in a reported statement. “Hydro is working to contain and neutralize the attack, but does not yet know the full extent of the situation.”

It’s claimed that the attack has affected operations across Europe and the US, with some — such as its extrusion plants — being forced to temporarily shut down.

The disruption comes at a bad time for the aluminium giant, which is struggling to get approval to fully restart its Alunorte plant in Brazil after admitting leaking untreated water during heavy rains there.

It’s unclear at this early stage exactly what kind of cyber-threat the firm is tackling, although its main website was down at the time of writing. It could be a ransomware attack, and/or something designed to tie up IT security staff while sensitive data is stolen.

Company spokesman Halvor Molland has told local reporters that the attacks are “of a magnitude we haven’t seen before” and cover “several areas of our organization.”

Suspicious activity on servers overnight initially tipped off IT workers that something was wrong, but the threat seems to have spread quickly to other parts of the business.

The firm has 35,000 employees and operates in 40 countries around the world.

Back in 2016, German steel giant ThyssenKrupp said it was the victim of a major cyber-attack designed “to steal technological know-how and research” from its steel production and manufacturing plant design divisions.

This article appeared in InfoSecurity magazine.

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