Just weeks after a big American oil spill he was hit by pirates, a cyberattack blow the largest meat supplier in the world. What next? Are these criminals destined for hospitals and schools? Will they start going after the cities, the governments of the United States and even the military?
In fact, all of these have been plagued by ransomware already. While the attack we’ve seen in the last month feels new, hackers who are holding services hostage and demanding payments have been big business for years. Dozens of American cities have been disturbed from ransomware, while hospitals they have been hit by attacks even during the depths of the pandemic. And in 2019, the The U.S. military has been targeted. But that doesn’t mean what we’re seeing now is just a matter of awareness. So what’s different now?
It is the result of inaction
You can’t explain the metastasis of the ransomware crisis without examining years of American inaction. The global ransomware crisis is growing at incredible proportions during Donald Trump’s presidency. Even as a critical infrastructure of the United States, city, and pipelines they were blamed, the Trump administration did little to address the problem, and it was gone ignored by most Americans.
The ransomware boom began at the tip of the Obama White House, which has approached it as part of its overall response to cybercrime. This involved putting agents on the ground around the world to achieve tactical victories in countries that would otherwise not be cooperative, but the defense against such attacks has fallen on the list of priorities under Trump even when the ransomware itself boomed.
Today, the Biden administration is making an unprecedented attempt to address the problem. The White House has said the hackers behind the Colonial Pipeline and JBS ransomware attacks are based in Russia, and have ongoing efforts regarding National Security and the Justice Department But while President Biden plans to discuss the attacks in the near future summit with Vladimir Putin on June 16, the problem comes deeper than relations between two countries.
It is also the result of new tactics
When the ransomware industry started about half a decade ago, the business model for such attacks was fundamentally different – and much simpler. Ransomware gangs have started indiscriminately infecting vulnerable machines without much care of exactly what they were doing or who they were intended for.
Today, transactions are much more sophisticated and payments are much higher. Ransomware gangs now pay specialized hackers to go. ”major huntingAnd look for massive targets that can pay huge ransoms. The hackers sold access to the gangs, which then carried out the extortion. Everyone is paid so well that it has become increasingly irresistible – especially since gangs typically suffer no consequences.
There is a safe haven for criminals
This leads to the next dimension of the problem: Pirates work from countries where they can avoid prosecution. They operate huge criminal empires and remain effectively immune to all attempts to curb them. That’s what Biden will bring to Putin in the coming weeks.
The problem extends beyond Russia and, to be clear, is not as simple as Moscow is targeting pirates. But the Kremlin’s tolerance of cybercriminals – and sometimes even direct cooperation with them – is a real contributor to the growing criminal industry. To change that, America and other countries must work together for it confront the nations who otherwise see no problem with American hospitals and gas pipelines held for ransom. The secure port for cybercriminals, combined with the largely unregulated cryptocurrency used to facilitate crime, has made it very favorable for hackers.
And we are all more connected and insecure than ever
And then there’s the inevitable fact that weak cybersecurity combined with ubiquitous connectivity equates to increasingly vulnerable targets. Everything in America – from our factories to our hospitals – is connected to the Internet, but much of it is not adequately secured.
Globally, the free market has failed to solve some of the world’s biggest cybersecurity problems. This may be because the ransomware crisis is a problem on a scale that no private sector can solve on its own.
As ransomware and cybercrime increasingly become a national security threat – and one that threatens to harm humans, as in the case of attacks on hospitals – it has become clear that the government action is needed. And so far officials of the world’s most powerful nations have managed above all else to face the disaster.
In contrast, what must happen to change this is a global partnership between countries and companies to take ransomware to heart. There is an impetus to change the status quo, including a main executive order of recent cybersecurity outside the White House. But the work only begins.