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Why Ransomware Attacks Become a National Security Risk : NPR



A sign at the Houston Pipeline Colonial Plant in Pasadena, Texas, warns of trespassing. Colonial was forced to close a critical pipeline last month after suffering a ransomware attack. There were more and more such attacks. It targets key infrastructure such as fuel or food supplies.

Francois Picard/AFP via Getty Images


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Francois Picard/AFP via Getty Images


A sign at the Houston Pipeline Colonial Plant in Pasadena, Texas, warns of trespassing. Colonial was forced to close a critical pipeline last month after suffering a ransomware attack. There were more and more such attacks. It targets key infrastructure such as fuel or food supplies.

Francois Picard/AFP via Getty Images

The United States experienced 65,000 ransomware attacks last year. or more than seven hours per hour and will probably get worse

What was once considered a nuisance is rapidly becoming a national security issue. This is because cybercriminals target important parts of the country’s infrastructure. Recent Colonial Pipeline Attacks This caused a purchase panic, which resulted in many gas stations across the Southeast vacant. Meanwhile, another attack on JBS has raised fears over domestic beef supply.

The onslaught has been increasing for years in the making. last year There were 65,000 ransomware attacks, according to Boston-based cybersecurity firm Recorded Future.

Companies and institutions have been neglecting their IT systems for a long time. This makes them vulnerable to hacks. experts say The pandemic has made them more vulnerable. This is because many Americans use their personal modems and routers to work from home.

Stopping an attack would be difficult. Today’s criminals can easily find sophisticated malware in the dark corners of the web. and the increasing popularity of Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have made cybercriminals more daring by making it easier to circumvent law enforcement and financial regulators.

And then there’s the most important reason for all of them: Attacks tend to continue as they work.

“This is just the beginning,” said Holden Trilett, founder of cybersecurity consulting firm Trenchcoat Advisors.

“And it’s going to get a lot worse,” he said.

Malware attacks put executives in a difficult position. First, companies lose access to sensitive systems or data. Then there is a knock-on effect. If the hack becomes public may affect the company’s share price. Or worse, create a national problem.

Last month, Colonial decided to pay $4.4 million to unlock its IT system. After a cyber attack forced the company to close a critical fuel pipeline, Colonial CEO Joseph Blount told NPR he had no choice.

“It was the right decision for the country,” he said in an interview last week.

Juan Zarate, deputy national security adviser in the fight against terrorism during the George W. Bush administration, said the growing targets signal that a ransomware attack has become “Professionalism”

“What you have I think in the last year and a half or two. This is an increase in the number of ransomware attacks. required amount and the level of complexity of those attacks,” Zarate said.

DarkSide, the Russian criminal group behind the Colonial Pipeline attack, despite what some experts describe as primarily contacting customer service to deal with questions from the attacker.

Alternative currencies offer anonymity and regulations tend to be relatively light in each country. in some jurisdictions They weren’t even regulated. For a country like the United States Transactions can be difficult to track. It depends on which trading criminals use it.

“I think cryptocurrency It has facilitated the ransomware market,” said Kiersten Todt, managing director of the CyberReadiness Institute.

It is ingrained in the world of cryptocurrencies That companies buy Bitcoins so that “if faced with a ransomware attack, they’ll be available,” Todt said.

While the Justice Department has been able to track and recover much of the Colonial Pipeline ransom, experts say that won’t be the norm.

This was evident in the warning from Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, which contained a message for executives who might feel the government would similarly step in to help recover the ransom.

“We cannot guarantee. And we may not be able to do this in all cases,” she said.

In other words, there are too many attacks and not all attacks can be stopped.


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