When many people think ransomware they usually think on the small scale, someone’s email or computer being held hostage until a small sum is paid or an IT professional can assist with the problem (for the lucky ones).
Or perhaps you think of the major breaches where millions of accounts are leaked to the public, usually containing emails, phone numbers and other identifying information. As a whole the public has become desensitized to these sort of breaches (even though they’re still a serious problem).
What we probably do not immediately jump to is a full-scale terrorist level attack that can cripple large swaths of the country – such is the case with the Colonial Pipeline Hack.
While it’s still an ongoing situation, here are the details in summary.
Systems were shut down Friday at the Colonial Pipeline, a pipeline which supplies 45% of the fuel used on the East Coast. FBI has confirmed the pipeline was shutdown voluntarily to prevent future damage and to assess the situation, however this has left much of the country in limbo as gas prices climb and many states have declared a state of emergency.
It’s being urged that residents in those states do not stock pile gas as that will only prolong the problem of shortages once operations resume. As of Wednesday, operations are still down but they say they hope to resume operations by the end of the week.
It’s also been confirmed by the FBI that the RAAS (Ransomware As A Service) group DarkSide is responsible for the attack. They create hacking tools that are then used in attacks on businesses, the group itself usually targets for profit businesses in English speaking countries.
As a relatively new hacking group, they have since August 2020 conducted attacks on various businesses trying to extort money from them by threatening to release the data they obtain in their hacking efforts. They claim to donate all or part of their ill-gotten gains to charity organizations. Their ransomware demands range from $200,000 to $2 million.
They claim to operate with a code of ethics and will not attack hospitals, schools etc. However, this pipeline attack will have a trickle-down effect to those services and the public at large.
Ransomware in any form is disruptive and violating and it’s clear more needs to be done to stamp out these attacks.
Raising public awareness about cyber security and the efforts required to be safe online will help. In addition to that, requiring businesses to have protective measures in place will cut off these groups before they’re able to acquire the funding they need to become large hacking organizations.
We need to work together to making hacking less lucrative, because as it’s been shown our way of life and public safety may be at stake.
If you run a business and need help with your cyber security services, we’re here for you. We have tailored cyber security plans for businesses of all sizes, and we would be happy to guide you through the process of protecting your business. Schedule a free consultation here today.
Update: As of Thursday, the Colonial Pipeline has resumed operations. It's unknown how long the gas shortages caused by the outage will last.
Looking for more to read? We suggest these tech articles from the last week.
- Remote working: Is Big Tech going off work from home? - BBC News
- One cybersecurity stock is bucking the tech sell-off and on pace for its best week since 2001 - CNBC
- A Closer Look at the DarkSide Ransomware Gang - Krebs On Security
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