Happy Holidays! With love from your favorite cybercriminal…
By: Alan Bauman
It’s that time of year again. Turkeys, twinkly lights and gifts abound. It’s a season of celebration. A time to gather (perhaps virtually) with friends and family; to perhaps reflect on the year gone by and the year ahead. Ah, don’t we all love this joyous time of year?
Possibly the only people who might relish the holidays more than us are cybercriminals. They see the holidays-really any holiday, not just the ones that end the year-as the perfect opportunity to unleash their favorite brand of mayhem, ransomware.
Why strike at holiday time? The reason is that it’s when fewer people are paying attention. It seems that cyber attacks often start at the beginning of a holiday weekend when people are maybe already checked out and where their attack may go unnoticed for a longer period of time.
I was at an industry conference not long ago and heard the tale of a fellow managed IT service provider who uncovered an attack that started on the long fourth of July weekend. The cyber bad guys turned on their encryption algorithms and they ran all weekend long before anyone noticed. And the longer an attack goes undetected, the more potential damage can be done. They may be criminals, but cyber attacks are usually not conducted by dummies.
Another tale from another colleague occurred over the long Thanksgiving break. Same MO. After some heroic work by a vigilant MSP, data was restored. All was right with the world right? Wrong. Even though all systems were once again functioning properly, the hackers had in their possession sensitive data and thus were in a position to demand a ransom – albeit quite a bit lower than had data not been restored – but still sizable. Why, you might ask, would a sensible insurance company (this very smart company had excellent cyber coverage) pay for a hacker’s promise not to release this data? It turns out that cyber criminals have reputations much like you or I might have on e-bay or google. This particularly group was known to be “honorable”. Think about that one for a minute.
Not to rain on anyone’s holiday parade, but while you’re reading those cards that talk about “peace” and “goodwill”, remember to be extra vigilant and attentive to your IT systems too.
Happy holidays… 😉