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Cybersecurity Attacks in 2021

by | Oct 14, 2021

                2021 has seen an increasing number of cyberattacks making headlines. There are many reasons why these attacks have been happening more frequently lately. One of them is that businesses are relying more heavily upon IT for their entire infrastructure including financial access. Ransomware attacks have also become much easier to execute as IT technology continues to develop. Because so many transactions happen through the cloud, hackers can launch these attacks from far away and not have to be physically present (one of the reasons why you hear about Russia being responsible for these attacks). Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have also made them easier to execute since there are no upward limits to Bitcoin transfers while banks tend to have caps on wire transfers. Here are some of the most notable Cyber Security attack stories thus far in 2021.

                The attack that has received the most news this year was the Colonial Pipeline attack that happened in April. The Colonial Pipeline is a key part of American Infrastructure, providing gas and jet fuel all over the Southeastern United States, therefore the impact of the attack was tremendous. Although the exact details are not clear, the hackers were able to obtain a password to an old network of their that was still operational. Once they were in the network, they were able to lock the company’s billing and internal business network. The hack led to gas shortages at the pump for much of the Southeastern United States. Not only that, but people became so alarmed that they hoarded as much gas as they could, some going as far as storing it in plastic bags and bins. One car even caught on fire. The disruption was so great, that the company almost immediately paid the ransom which was $4.4 million in Bitcoin. The whole thing could have been avoided, however, if the company was protected by two-factor authentication. All the hackers needed was one password to get into the old network and cause so much damage to not only the company, but to the whole country. It should be noted that the FBI was later able to trace much of the $4.4 million in Bitcoin and recover it. However, the hacker group, DarkSide, still remains at large and even performed another cyber-attack on Brenntag later in May stealing 150 GB of data and also racking up another $4.4 million in Bitcoin as a ransom.

                Perhaps the second most headline-breaking attack was the attack on JBS. JBS is a Brazilian meat processing company that has a presence all over the world. In May, the main JBS chapter of the United States was attacked by the hacker group REvil, which actually was responsible for earlier cyberattacks on the computer manufacturer Acer and Quanta, a business partner of Apple. The attack forced JBS meat plants to shut down for at least one day driving the cost of meat up everywhere. Although JBS was able to get most of its systems back online and working all by itself, they still decided to pay the ransom to REvil to keep their files safe. The ransom they paid was $11 million in bitcoin, one of the largest ransomware payments to date. Thankfully, this didn’t lead to any major food shortages, and it did not lead to any mass panic buying, but the price of meat was driven up significantly and remains high currently.

                Another lesser-known yet significant cyberattack that happened this year was the attack on TTEC, which happened just this September. TTEC is a technology company that works with some of the greatest corporations in the world such as Bank of America, Verizon, Kaiser Permanente, and Dish Network. The company released a statement that they were subject to a ransomware attack as some of their employees were unable to connect to their network. The group responsible for the attack is Ragnar Locker. The hacker group is known for stealing data and encrypting it until a ransom is paid. TTEC is now fully operational, yet the company has not released any statement about whether the ransom has been paid.

                There are many takeaways from the cyber attack events of this year. One is that companies should strongly consider stepping up their IT game. As mentioned above, IT technology is getting stronger, and it has become much easier for hackers to use it for theft. Another takeaway is that IT people themselves also need to step up their game. As mentioned above, even the technology company TTEC has fallen victim to a cyber-attack. Therefore, IT professionals should be constantly educating themselves on the latest developments in cyber security threats as the IT world changes. Here at Iler Networking and computing, our technicians are enthusiastic about keeping up with all things IT. If your business is looking into updating its cybersecurity, feel free to reach out to us for a free no-obligation consultation.

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