Ransomware can start cyber warfare! This is why.

What if you can’t drive to your office because the traffic lights are red everywhere? You were to travel somewhere but you can’t take a train because the train control systems are not working. You can’t even take a flight because the systems of air traffic control won’t work. Any of your devices can’t connect to the internet because there is a power outage.

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Now imagine if the situations mentioned above arise, how would you react? Or how would the world react?

There will be chaos everywhere!

The worst will be if no one knows why it is happening or who is behind it.

This is not just a myth! But some facts that we all know are possible. Facts that can take place even today or are likely to happen soon if things don’t change.

So, now the million-dollar question arises, is the world prepared to stop this?

4th of July Ransomware Attack

On July 4th, 2021, almost every office and business was shut in the US, celebrating its 245th independence day. It’s a day that makes citizens proud of the nation and celebrates the memories of their accomplishments.

However, the day turned out to be memorable but not just in a positive way.

A hacking group, known as REvil, the same Russian-speaking cyber criminal group behind the attack on meat producer JBS was on a hacking spree.

The hacking group infiltrated the Miami-based IT firm Kaseya. The ransomware attack by the hacking group on the eve of 4th July independence day is believed to be the single biggest global ransomware attack so far.  Experts believe it is even larger than the recent SolarWinds hack.

Kaseya provides IT software to around 40000 customers around the world. A software that helps firms manage their computer systems. According to The Washington Post, REvil ransomware group carried out the cyber attack through the software that Kaseya sells to large managed service providers.

It is worth noting that these large managed service providers in turn help small and midsize businesses. Kaseya chief executive Fred Voccola said the number of companies effected because of the cyber attack is “fewer than 1,500 downstream businesses”.

The Washington Post further mentions that hundreds of Sweden’s Coop grocery stores are temporarily shut down because of this ransomware attack. The cash registers in the stores were locked up. In addition, 9 schools were also affected in some ways in New Zealand. The cyber attack forced some students to shut down their computers.

4th of July Ransomware Attack
The Twitter post from ESET Research about the incident (Source: Twitter)

The Twitter post from ESET Research says it has identified victims in 17 countries so far. 

Countries as per the post include:

  • UK
  • South Africa
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • USA
  • Colombia
  • Sweden
  • Kenya
  • Argentina
  • Mexico
  • The Netherlands
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Mauritius
  • New Zealand
  • Spain
  • Turkey

Financially Motivated Cyber Attacks

So far the full scope of the cyber attack is not certain. However, the hacking group REvil has requested a joint ransom. And for the same reason, the experts believe that the group wants to end the attack quickly. 

Allan Liska, a researcher in a cyber security firm said, “To me that’s a sign that they realize that this is a bigger problem than they originally thought”. Liska further added, “But I think behind the scenes, this is a lot more than they probably anticipated.”

It is worth mentioning that most of these cyber attacks are financially motivated, especially ransomware attacks. In some cases, the hackers demand as much as $50,000 per employee from a company after locking them out of their systems through malware.

For instance, as mentioned above, it was only last month that JBS had to pay an $11 million ransom. It is after REvil shut down operations at some of the company’s largest facilities. Another example is the Colonial Pipeline attack, the US’s largest gas provider. The company had to pay $4.4 million to get back online after the cyber attack forced the company to shut down the gas delivery to the East Coast.

According to Aithority, ransomware accounts for 81% of all financially motivated cyber attacks in 2020

81% of financially motivated cyber attacks use ransomware
81% of financially motivated cyber attacks use ransomware (Source: Aithority)

Protecting Our Assets

So, as mentioned above, it all comes down to what will you do to stop this? How to stop hackers damaging your brand reputation? How do you defend against them stealing money/information from you and your customers?

The best thing you can do is to implement the right cyber security measures. As mentioned in one of my old blogs “A CISO’s Guide to Prevent Ransomware Attacks” there are 6 effective ransomware solutions you can follow. They are:

  • Back up your data regularly
  • Update the software and hardware whenever the new security updates arrive
  • Enforce strong password policy in an organization and also implement MFA
  • Scan every link and attachment before downloading or clicking the link
  • Provide cyber security awareness and training to the employees to educate them on how to avoid the latest and most common cyber attacks

Cyber attack statistics

Choose investments over losses!

Investment in cyber security can help you save yourself a big portion of your revenue which can be lost due to cyber attacks. Therefore, invest and relax!

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