Categories: Security

Ransomware attack against 30 US companies blocked

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Symantec, a cybersecurity company, successfully blocked a ransomware attack that targeted 30 companies based in the United States.

The companies attacked include eight Fortune 500 companies, and Symantec says the Evil Corp cybercrime outfit was responsible for the malware attack.

Successful defense

The malware used by the criminals was WastedLocker, a new form of ransomware. Evil Corp has used other forms of ransomware in the past to great profit. Symantec says such malware attacks have earned the criminal group tens of millions of dollars.

Until this attack, Evil Corp had been pretty quiet this year. This could be due to the United States indicting two Russians who are allegedly part of the group—Igor Olegovich Turashev and Maksim Viktorovich Yakubets.

The malware attack targeted the IT infrastructures of the companies, but the cybersecurity experts at Symantec detected the early stages of the attacks by spotting patterns of activity that had been observed in other hacking attempts.

If the malware attack had not been stopped, Symantec notes that “successful attacks could have led to millions in damages, downtime, and a possible domino effect on supply chains.”

The main industry targeted in the attack was manufacturing, and the disruption of any supply chain could have had major repercussions in this time of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Ransomware on the rise

As more and more business is conducted in the digital sphere, criminals are turning to ransomware to make some easy profit. The ability to attack any group or business around the world while remaining in a country that may have lax hacking laws or have no extradition treaties with the victims’ countries is a recipe for continued use.

Such attacks can be highly sophisticated, and the potential costs could be very high. As Symantec notes:

“The attackers behind this threat appear to be skilled and experienced, capable of penetrating some of the most well protected corporations, stealing credentials, and moving with ease across their networks. As such, WastedLocker is a highly dangerous piece of ransomware. A successful attack could cripple the victim’s network, leading to significant disruption to their operations and a costly clean-up operation.”

The number of ransomware attacks continues to go up. 2019 saw a 50% increase in attacks in Singapore.

Cybersecurity company Emsisoft estimates that the costs of paying ransoms and the downtime associated with attacks for Australia could have reached over US$1 billion [AUS$1.46 billion] in 2019. The company estimates that the global cost could have reached a staggering US$169 billion [AUS$246 billion] last year.

Images courtesy of Pashminu Mansukhani/Pixabay, Blogtrepreneur/Flickr

Jeff Francis

Jeff has taken a roundabout way to becoming a cryptocurrency writer. He has always had a huge interest in history, which led to him receiving a degree in medieval history. He once thought of becoming a teacher but eventually joined some friends in opening a hobby shop. Jeff eventually took over sole proprietorship of the business and ran it for over 10 years. He then moved on to online selling and then into gaming journalism. He has spent the last 10 years writing professionally for various websites as well as creating content for many businesses. A few years back, he began hearing about Bitcoin and the rise of other cryptocurrencies. A proponent of allowing people to take economic power into their own hands, Jeff has enthusiastically supported cryptocurrencies, not to mention the many benefits of blockchain technology. This interest propelled him to becoming a writer for, and later editor of, several cryptocurrency-focused websites. Jeff is a lifelong geek and gamer. He tries to keep up with the slew of TV shows and movies that fall into the fantasy/sci-fi/superhero genres, and he still plays pen-and-paper role-playing games on the weekends. He lives in Florida, USA, as he cannot stand cold weather.

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