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Ransomware-stricken Royal Mail has reinstated the last remaining international services through Post Office branches following the January 2022 LockBit attack, which left its export services paralysed for weeks.
In a notice published today, the postal service said all international export services to all destinations are now available for purchase online, via shipping partners, or over the counter, although it is warning that delivery may still take slightly longer than before, and the tracking information available to customers may be different.
It is also asking people sending items that require a customs declaration to buy online, through shipping solutions partners, or over the counter, rather than using postage stamps or meters.
Royal Mail had already stood up a number of its services using technical workarounds that mitigated the impact of the ransomware, but recovering over-the-counter services at Post Office branches took longer. The two organisations have operated as separate companies since April 2012 under the terms of the Postal Services Act of 2011.
Meanwhile, the Post Office has announced it is to provide additional remuneration to postmasters for handling international letters and parcels through its 11,500 branches.
“Postmasters have been the innocent victims of this faceless crime, unable to support businesses and consumers wishing to use their expertise to get parcels sent abroad,” said Post Office parcels and mails managing director, Neill O’Sullivan.
“For many small businesses, Post Offices are an integral part of their business setup and this has been a challenging time for them too. We have worked day and night in partnership with Royal Mail to reinstate all international services via our branch network.
“Post Office is providing additional remuneration to Postmasters for handling international items at branches in the form of a new fixed payment for each transaction. In addition, for all Royal Mail international labels sold in branch during February and March, Post Office will pay additional commission on the value of each item.”
O’Sullivan acknowledged that the past month-and-a-half period has been difficult for postmasters who have missed out on payment for providing international services, which is a tough situation to be in during the current economic climate. The Post Office hopes the temporary package of remuneration improvements will go some way to helping them recover lost earnings.
The high-profile ransomware attack, which began on 10 January 2022 and was made public a day later, has had a substantial impact, particularly on small business owners and independent creators who rely on Royal Mail to ship goods overseas.
The LockBit cartel behind the attack at first tried to deny responsibility, at first saying that the attack had been carried out by an unsanctioned operator using a leaked copy of its source code. It later pivoted and claimed that an affiliate had attacked Royal Mail without its knowledge.
Subsequently, the gang did take responsibility, and last week leaked a copy of the chat transcript between its operatives and a negotiator working on Royal Mail’s behalf. The transcript revealed that the postal service supposedly refused to pay a £66m ransom demand, saying it was an “absurd amount of money”. Royal Mail has steadfastly declined to comment on the accuracy of the transcript.
Read more about the attack on Royal Mail
- 11 January: UK postal service Royal Mail is asking customers not to send any overseas letters or parcels while it deals with the impact of an ongoing cyber attack.
- 13 January: The still-developing cyber incident at Royal Mail may be the work of the infamous LockBit ransomware operation.
- 17 January: Royal Mail CEO Simon Thompson apologises to customers whose businesses are being disrupted by a ransomware attack and promises a “workaround” will be in place in the near future.
- 19 January: Royal Mail has resumed limited international services after putting in place operational workarounds to bypass the impact of a ransomware attack.
- 23 January: Royal Mail asks customers to hold back from sending post overseas as some services get back on track, while a report warns that disruptive attacks on critical infrastructure are set to become more common.
- 26 January: Royal Mail has successfully stood up its International Tracked and Signed, and International Signed, services as it continues to recover from a ransomware attack.
- 31 January: Royal Mail is making further progress in recovering IT systems hit by a ransomware attack, and has re-enabled another tranche of international export services.
- 6 February: Royal Mail has restored almost all of its international services to some extent, but remains unable to accept parcels bought over the counter in a Post Office branch.
- 7 February: The LockBit ransomware gang claims it has stolen sensitive data from Royal Mail and will leak it later this week if its demands go unmet.
- 15 February: Leaked chat logs reveal Royal Mail has supposedly refused to pay a £66m ransom demand from the LockBit ransomware gang.