Ransomware Attacks on the Rise
Over the last few months, a new threat has emerged from the shadows and is wreaking havoc for the US, its economy, and its citizens.
A slew of ransomware attacks have been bringing businesses to a standstill across the country as hackers take advantage of those with rather large holes in their cybersecurity.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that blocks access to systems or computers until a specific sum of money has been paid. Though this has been used to target many in the past, hackers are now seeking opportunities to take advantage of large, wealthy corporations. Let’s take a look at some recent attacks.
Earlier in the month, one of the largest ferry operators in Massachusetts fell victim to a ransomware attack that left passengers traveling to Wood’s Hole, Martha’s Vineyard from Nantucket stranded.
Passengers were unable to access online services, meaning that the only way they could make purchases was in-person, causing huge delays which were still being experienced a week after the attack.
It also meant that passengers were unable to modify any of their existing bookings. At the time of writing, no group has yet come forward to take credit for the hack.
JBS Meatplant Hack
Said to have been coordinated by a team of Russian hackers known as REvil or Sodinokibi, one of the largest meat processing chains in the world, JBS, was also hacked in recent weeks.
The hack resulted in JBS having to close the entirety of their beef plants across the US with their poultry and pork plants also suffering closures.
REvil uses a system that’s been coined RAAS (Ransomware as a Service) where they rely on developers of the ransomware to recruit affiliates who spread the malware. If an attack is successful, they get a percentage of the loot.
Colonial Pipeline Hack
Last but not least is the Colonial Pipeline hack that happened on May 7th. The hack was likely one of the more disruptive for members of the public who faced huge gasoline shortages.
It affected the billing system which forced Colonial to cut off the supply of around 5,500 miles of pipeline that resulted in disruption to over 50% of the east coast’s entire fuel supply. The southeast of the country was worst affected and gas prices rose astronomically to the highest rates we’d seen since 2014.
The hackers reportedly got into the system via a “compilation” password data breach dubbed RockYou2021 which contained over 8.4 billion sets of credentials. The hack was said to have been carried out by DarkSide who demanded a $4.4million ransom paid in bitcoin which Colonial agreed to pay, an act that has been criticized by many.
These recent events truly highlight the significant lack of cybersecurity measures in place within large corporations. A ransomware task force has now been launched by the FBI to help tackle these attacks and prevent them from happening in the future.
However, businesses of all sizes need to play their part. By investing more heavily in cybersecurity measures, businesses can save millions of dollars and weeks (sometimes months) of disruption.
There is still something of a stigma surrounding ransomware attacks which makes it hard to report the level of financial damage they cause each year. Experts estimate it’s somewhere in the region of $42bilion to $170billion with Veritas adding that 66% of victims admit to paying the ransom to get systems back up and running as soon as possible.