April 4, 2018

Ransomware is on the Rise

Ransomware is on the rise. Although this indiscriminant brand of malware has been around since at least 1989, the availability of anonymous digital currency, and the wealth of information now stored on devices has recently made it a very lucrative strategy in the eyes of cyber criminals.

 

Ransomware is, at its core, opportunistic. This is why not only businesses and individuals are being hit, but entire cities and counties as well. The city of Allentown, PA recently faced off with a cybercriminal who used the malware Emotet to lock down some of the city’s most critical systems, forcing officials to shut down some financial and public safety operations.

 

Last month, Davidson County, NC was compromised by a ransomware called Samas - a targeted, aggressive hybrid attack that attempts to infect all machines on an organization's network to encrypt and delete files. The virus impacted more than 70 servers and an unknown number of desktops and laptops, and gave officials seven days to pay an undisclosed sum.

 

The Davidson attack came on the heels of another North Carolina incident which plagued officials for months. In December, a hacker used a phishing email to gain the log-in credentials of a Mecklenburg County employee and infect the county’s computer systems with ransomware. Mecklenburg County refused to pay the sum, and found that their preparation for a ransomware attack provided them the right process and course of action to rebuild after the attack. And while Fortalice does not name our clients, Mecklenburg County publicly credited our team as the experts called in to help them weather the storm. We were honored to help.

 

When speaking to the press in light of the incident, Fortalice CEO, Theresa Payton said, "Right now, ransomware is attractive to cyber criminals. They're getting away with it. Companies feel like they have to get operational again so they pay the ransom, and the criminals aren’t going to jail, so in some cases, by paying the ransom to get operational we're just encouraging this behavior."

 

We work closely with local, state and national law enforcement on cybercrime cases and we highly encourage our customers to notify and work with the FBI to eradicate ransomware and criminal activity quickly. We recently joined Mecklenburg County at an FBI InfraGard chapter meeting to discuss the incident and ways you can prepare and respond. You can see some our tips here: https://www.wsoctv.com/news/local/fbi-to-speak-about-2017-hack-that-froze-meck-county-government-servers/719393312

 

For more information on how you can protect your company from ransomware, email watchmen@fortalicesolutions.com. We protect businesses, nations, and people. We stand ready to help.

 

 

Sources:
http://money.cnn.com/2017/06/27/technology/ransomware-why-keep-happening/index.html  
https://securityzap.com/emotet-malware-attacks-allentown-computer-systems/  
https://www.knowbe4.com/samas-ransomware  
http://www.the-dispatch.com/news/20180216/county-computers-shut-down-by-ransomware http://spectrumlocalnews.com/nc/charlotte/news/2017/12/07/cybersecurity-updates-on-mecklenburg-county-hacking