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Massive ransomware attack can affect thousands of victims

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Massive ransomware attack can affect thousands of victims

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(Bloomberg) – Just weeks after President Joe Biden implored Vladimir Putin to stop cybercrime, a notorious ransomware gang linked to Russia has been accused of carrying out a daring attack on the global software supply chain. .

REvil, the group blamed for the May 30 ransomware attack by meatpacking giant JBS SA, is believed to be behind the attacks on at least 20 managed service providers, which provide IT services to small and medium businesses. medium businesses. More than 1,000 companies have already been affected, a number that is expected to grow, according to cybersecurity firm Huntress Labs Inc.

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“Based on a combination of service providers reaching out to us for help along with the feedback we are seeing in the thread we are tracking on our Reddit, it is reasonable to think that this could potentially affect thousands of small businesses,” according to John Hammond, a cybersecurity researcher at Huntress Labs.

Attacking MSPs is a particularly devious hacking method, as it can allow attackers to infiltrate your clients as well. Hammond said more than 20 MSPs have been affected so far.

In Sweden, most of the more than 800 stores in the Coop supermarket chain were unable to open on Saturday after the attack caused their cash registers to malfunction, spokeswoman Therese Knapp told Bloomberg News.

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So far, there are victims in 17 countries, including the UK, South Africa, Canada, Argentina, Mexico and Spain, according to Aryeh Goretsky, a distinguished researcher at cybersecurity firm ESET.

The ransomware attack is the latest in a series of devastating attacks in recent months, making cybersecurity an increasingly urgent national security issue for the Biden administration. At a summit on June 16, Biden warned Russian President Putin that 16 types of critical infrastructure, including food and agriculture, emergency services and medical care, were out of reach of future attacks. It is not yet known whether the US victims of the latest ransomware attack are within those sectors.

An attack on the software supply chain revealed in December included nine US agencies and around 100 companies as victims. Russian state-sponsored hackers were charged with the attack, in which hackers implanted malicious code into popular software updates for SolarWinds Corp. Customers who downloaded the updates inadvertently created a backdoor that hackers could exploit. It was particularly sophisticated and highlighted the terrifying potential of supply chain attacks.

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More recently, ransomware attacks against Colonial Pipeline Co., the operator of the nation’s largest fuel pipeline, and JBS have revealed huge security vulnerabilities in crucial US businesses. Both Colonial and JBS paid the hackers millions of dollars. The hackers behind the colonial attack, a group called DarkSide, have also been linked to Russia.

Friday’s attack appears to combine a supply chain attack with ransomware, vastly increasing the number of potential victims and, presumably, the payout. Ransomware is a type of attack in which hackers encrypt computer files and then demand payment to unlock them.

Among the targeted companies was Kaseya Ltd., a Miami-based software developer for managed service providers, as a way to attack its customers, according to cybersecurity experts.

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“What makes this attack stand out is the leakage effect, from the managed service provider to the small business,” Hammond said. “Kaseya operates from large companies to small companies globally, so ultimately it has the potential to expand to companies of any size or scale.”

In a statement, Kaseya said she notified the FBI. The company said it had so far identified fewer than 40 customers affected by the attack.

Allan Liska, a senior threat analyst at cybersecurity firm Recorded Future Inc., said REvil was behind the attacks.

Eric Goldstein, executive deputy director of cybersecurity at the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said the group is closely monitoring this situation.

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“We are working with Kaseya and coordinating with the FBI to carry out outreach activities to possible affected victims,” ​​he said in a statement. “We encourage anyone who may be affected to use the recommended mitigations and for users to follow Kaseya’s instructions to shut down VSA servers immediately. As always, we are ready to help the affected entities. “

Two of the affected MSPs include Synnex Corp. and Avtex LLC, according to two people familiar with the breaches. Avtex Chairman George Demou told Bloomberg News in a text message late Friday: “Hundreds of MSPs have been affected by what appears to be a global supply chain hack.”

“We are working with those clients who have been affected to help them recover,” he added.

A Synnex spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

© 2021 Bloomberg LP

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