Home » today » Business » Hackers are teaching big business how to pay ransom – 2024-04-25 08:13:20

Hackers are teaching big business how to pay ransom – 2024-04-25 08:13:20

/ world today news/ The hacking attack that left dozens of American states without gasoline received an unexpected development. The pipeline operator has admitted paying cybercriminals a huge ransom to resume fuel supplies to America’s East Coast. Why did a major company from one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world fall victim to an online ransom? On Thursday, it became known about new victims of hackers.

On Thursday, it became known that Colonial Pipeline, the largest pipeline operator in the US, paid hackers $5 million in cryptocurrency. The decision was made after the company, which provides 45% of the total supply of fuel in the eastern part of the US, was attacked last week by a virus that blocked the servers until the victim paid the required amount.

Colonial Pipeline management had to temporarily suspend the company’s operations. US officials have declared a regional emergency after pipeline shutdowns left half of gas stations in 17 states in the southeastern US and even the Columbia metropolitan area without fuel. At the same time, supplies of not only gasoline, but also diesel and aviation fuel were disrupted. As a result, “the company paid a hefty ransom in untraceable cryptocurrency within hours of the attack,” Bloomberg reported. After the hackers receive the required amount, they provide the company with a special tool to restore the computer network to work. As US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm assured, the operator will resume the work of the pipelines in the near future.

The perpetrators of the cyberattack became known immediately, it seems that they did not hide much. The “Darkside” hacker group was exposed during the shutdown of the pipeline company – it is a community of online criminals. There are reports in the American press about the “Russian trail”. Thus, “Bloomberg” claims that “Darkside”, organized in the summer of 2020, can be connected with both Russia and the countries of Eastern Europe.

To be fair, we note that the American leadership this time does not consider the Russian authorities “responsible” for the attacks on the “Colonial Pipeline”. This, in particular, was announced on Thursday by President Joe Biden. Referring to the FBI report, Biden said: “We have strong grounds to believe that the criminals who carried out the attack are living in Russia.” According to the US president, Washington is in contact with Moscow about the hacking of the pipeline.

On Thursday, Biden signed an executive order to protect US federal government networks from cyberattacks. The White House acknowledged that this document, designed to improve the cybersecurity of the United States, is directly related to a “sobering reminder” in the form of recent hacker attacks. The Biden administration also mentioned the Colonial Pipeline attack directly. Anyway, the main result of this story was the decision of the management of a strategically important enterprise to comply with the demands of extortionists.

The case of a large-scale hacker attack against an American company shows, above all, that the real sector of the economy has a very poor understanding of the dangers emanating from the network, believes German Klimenko, chairman of the board of the Fund for Digital Economic Development, former adviser to the President of Russia on development on the Internet. “Internet technologies move very quickly, and a characteristic feature of the real sector is the duration of the preparation and implementation of projects,” Klimenko said.

The plant needs to be built within a few years, it’s not a startup to hit the ground running. Hence – a certain inertia and slowness in the transition to new technologies. The expert recalled the incident with cash registers in one of the largest retail chains in the United States, Walmart. As it turned out, they were working on the outdated Windows-95 operating system when Windows-10 was already widely distributed. “All the old business that is in the real sector of the economy is exposed to the risk of various technological challenges,” believes Klimenko.

“The blocking viruses, one of which Colonial Pipeline encountered, is a real disaster that is spreading across the globe. The incident does not indicate that the level of digital security in the US or Europe is low, but it speaks to a general problem. This big business needs to take cyber threats more seriously,” Klimenko said.

Russian entrepreneurs who work in the field of high technology may pay more attention to risk assessment, including the threat of hacker attacks, the expert believes. “There are standard procedures that we do on autopilot. We are used to being in a hostile internet environment, we have been subjected to both hacking and DDoS attacks. We already know what to do. And colleagues from the real sector of the economy, including the Russian one, do not understand this. It is new for them to go through these problems,” Klimenko added.

However, Klimenko believes the pipeline case will force big business to overcome its “tech arrogance” because it’s time for them to take network threats seriously. This will lead to an increase in cyber security budgets, to attract high-level specialists in the real sector of the economy. Ultimately, the story of the successful digital racket will see this type of crime flourish. Moreover, there is no guarantee that the criminals, after receiving the ransom, will calm down and not activate their virus again.

By the way, on Thursday, the Darkseid group posted information about its new victims on its website. These are four companies whose data fell into the hands of hackers. These are the Italian company “Valvitalia”, the French helicopter operator “Heli-Union”, the large American manufacturer of construction materials “Irvine” and the American company “American Asphalt”. The hackers also demand a ransom from them.

Klimenko believes that the attackers have chosen tactics that will complicate their search. So the investigation is unlikely to be able to reach the hackers by tracing the movement of money: the digital hackers demanded a ransom in bitcoins or analogs. “Cryptocurrency allows you to remain anonymous,” the source explained. “There is a fashion for bribes in cryptocurrency. It’s very convenient: try to track her down,” he added. But efforts are already being made to prevent the use of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for criminal purposes, Klimenko added.

“There are special services that mark cryptocurrencies obtained by illegal actions, and these units of the payment system may not be accepted for payment,” noted the expert. “On the other hand, laundering services have been developed that launder cryptocurrency so that its origins are harder to trace.” In any case, the “crypt” remains the safest method of payment between bandits in any questionable situations, Klimenko added.

Translation: V. Sergeev

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