TNT parcels ‘backed up to ceiling’ in wake of massive cyberattack

Parcels are backing up at TNT depots in their thousands after the company admitted it is still struggling to deal with the aftermath of June’s cyber-attack that crippled IT systems around the world.

Frustrated customers trying to get news of their undelivered parcels have been told by TNT’s UK staff that consignments at its East Midlands hub are “going up to the ceiling” as international shipments are still having to be processed by hand.

TNT was one of thousands of big businesses and other organisations hit by the ransomware attack known as “NotPetya” at the end of June. At least 2,000 individuals and organisations worldwide were affected by the attack, which began in the Ukraine.

Most organisations were up and running again within days and hours. But the full scale of the attack’s impact and resulting losses to some big businesses are only now starting to emerge.

On Monday the consumer group Reckitt Benckiser, the maker of Durex and Nurofen, blamed the same IT attack for a 2% fall in second quarter like-for-like sales. TNT’s parent company, FedEx, has already been forced to warn the New York stock exchange that its earnings would be “materially” down as a result of the attack.

The company said last week the problem has affected TNT operations around the world, pushing down its share more than 3%. It admitted that it did not have insurance to cover the attack.

“Customers are still experiencing widespread service and invoicing delays, and manual processes are being used to facilitate a significant portion of TNT operations and customer service functions,” FedEx said.

“We cannot yet estimate how long it will take to restore the systems that were impacted, and it is reasonably possible that TNT will be unable to fully restore all of the affected systems and recover all of the critical business data that was encrypted by the virus.”

Peter Blohm, an antique dealer from Aberystwyth, is one of those caught up the TNT chaos. He has been trying to find out what happened to a consignment of art that left Switzerland on the 11 July and was due to be delivered a day or so later. “TNT tell me they have had no computer systems since the end of June and there is no estimate for when their systems will be fixed,” he told the Guardian.

“This means there are many thousands of parcels which have like mine been waiting for weeks to be processed by hand with pen and paper. The staff sound harassed, but cannot estimate when my parcel will be delivered, because they simply do not know.”

A TNT spokeswoman said on Monday that there was no update to the statement issued last week. A customer care phone line to TNT’s main UK hub was not working on Monday, adding to the frustration of customers.

Earlier this month the Danish shipping group Maersk said it was too early to predict the financial impact of the cyberattack that hit the shipping giant’s computers and delayed cargoes. Other firms affected include the advertising firm WPP, French construction materials company Saint-Gobain, and Russian steel and oil firms Evraz and Rosneft.

Graham Cluley, an independent cybersecurity expert, said the final bill for the attack could be huge. “There’s no such thing as 100% security, but this malware outbreak has disrupted a number of large multinationals for weeks, hitting their systems, and in some cases financial outlook, for six,” Cluley said.

“I really hope that more companies are recognising the benefits of adopting a layered approach to security, examining closely how they have set up their networks, and taking steps to ensure that they are able to recover quickly should disaster strike.”

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