This week’s News of Notes includes a controversial use of facial recognition technology, stories highlighting AI’s role in both energy production and consumption, the continued use of ransomware and bots for criminal purposes, and more.
The actors behind ransomware tend to fall into two categories: cybercriminal gangs, often based in Eastern Europe, and groups backed by economic outcasts like Iran, Russia and North Korea. Historically the first prefer a shotgun approach; the second behave more like snipers. Here are a few of the groups that have been linked to recent ransomware and are still a threat.
It may seem that the very term “ransomware” wasted little time going from “newish-sounding threat” to expected, constant presence in the news and IT meetings alike. But, of course, it’s ultimately just a modern word for one of the oldest crimes out there—holding someone or something hostage until someone else pays for its release. Nonetheless, as the targets and means of these attacks have evolved, keeping track of it all has become a bit more complicated than a name on a ransom note. The ransomware landscape is constantly shifting as actors change their targets, find new points of attack and think of fresh ways to leverage encrypted data. Hundreds of variants of ransomware have been documented over the past few years, but here’s a cross-section of types posing a threat right now.
Brian Finch recently returned to Joel Simon‘s Industry Insights podcast to discuss the uptick in cyberattacks, data breaches perpetuating insider trading and strategies companies can employ to guard against these problems.
Joel Simon: It’s hard to believe it’s been more than 10 months since you joined us for a discussion of social engineering, fund diversion scams and a then recent escalation of state-sponsored cyberattacks. A lot has changed since then, but not surprisingly cyberattacks have increased and some of their aftereffects have had far-ranging implications. What are you seeing as the biggest threats today?
Recently, we noted vulnerability issues from use of the Internet of Things and how that has come to impact the health industry. Recent events continue to highlight this development. Since the start of the year, there have been cyber attacks targeting hospitals. Perhaps recognizing the extensive disruption and potential privacy concerns to patients, the hackers have targeted these institutions to either make a point or seek large sums in exchange for returning access to the hospital data. In January, Hurley Medical Center, based in Flint, Mich., was attacked, although a spokesperson stated that policies and protocols were followed and patient care was not compromised. The hacktivist group Anonymous released a video with the hashtag #OpFlint prior to the cyber attack and suggests responsibility for the breach to make a point regarding the city’s water crisis, although no confirmation has been made.