Professional Hackers Target Businesses Likely To Pay Ransom

Bloomberg Businessweek June 14, 2021 pp21-22 |Technology|Hacking| “tH3 Dge of R@n$om-W4R∑” “The hackers who paralyzed a major meat producer illustrate the new normal in cybercrime” THE BOTTOM LINE “Ransomware has developed into the preferred cybercrime for many financially motivated hacking groups, and the attackers are far more sophisticated than their victims.”



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Payouts for hacking since 2015 have totaled more or less about $125,000 per cyberattack but surged to slightly more than $250,000 in 2019. Until 2019 less than 25% of the costs were associated with direct ransom payments. As of 2019 ransoms averaged about 60% of more than $250,000 in total cost to resolve MALWARE attack.


Early on the most organized group was known as GandCrab which reportedly was “closing shop in 2019” as a “ransomware-as-a-service outfit.” REvil responsible “for the cyberattack on meat producer JBS SA” is said to have evolved from GandCrab. These groups have focused on more profitable hacks of ransomware and file stealing rather than “plundering of personal information.”


With this type of cybercrime “perpetrators encrypt files on a computer system, rendering them unusable until the victim pays for a decryption key.” Attacks have successfully targeted Colonial Pipeline Co., a hospital network and a police station “but manufacturers seem to be among the most popular…[as they] may be more likely to pay to prevent monetary losees from production downtime.”


What makes REvil even worse is their selling of the business to others by “pioneering a model known as ransomware-as-a-service, where it provides malware to others in exchange for a cut of the payments.” REvil is reportedly a “Russian-linked group.” It is noted that “many targets REvil and its peers pursue are overmatched…with the state of security in the industry generally is ‘nonexistent’.”


What to do?


“Harden defenses”


“Officials have floated the idea of prohibiting companies from paying hackers.” According to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm “You are encouraging the bad actions when” you pay make ransomware payments.