If you pay attention to the news, then you’ve seen a truly alarming rise in high-profile ransomware attacks in recent weeks.
This recent spate of hackers demanding payments in cryptocurrency in return for releasing a company’s data from hostage began with the Colonial Pipeline and Ireland’s health services and has continued with the attack on meat producer JBS earlier this week.
Others to report recent ransomware attacks include Bose, Toshiba, the Massachusetts Steamship Authority, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Exagrid, among others, according to press reports, public statements and documents.
IT departments, small companies, state and local government and hospitals are largely lacking the IT and cybersecurity talent to deal with the attacks themselves, so a strong response is required by the U.S. government, said cybersecurity executives and experts at a Wall Street Journal Pro Cybersecurity Executive Forum on Wednesday.
Among those calling for a strong response at the forum were Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity firm FireEye, who said President Joe Biden should raise the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin when they meet on June 16.
Many of the cyber actors deemed responsible for these recent attacks and others that didn’t include the use of ransomware are believed to be Russian, so Biden should pursue sanctions, technology protections and diplomacy, Mandia said, according to the WSJ.
“You gotta pull every lever on this one,” he said at the forum. “We have to impose repercussions and costs.”
Mandia said the organizations that don’t have the skills to defend themselves are getting “sucker punched,” and he’s right.
The U.S. government is rightly getting serious about cybersecurity, evident by Biden’s executive order designed to strengthen the government’s approach to cybersecurity and adopt new IT concepts like Zero Trust and multi-factor authentication.
However, the order did little to address organizations doing business in the U.S. that run the risk of being hacked or having their systems held for ransom.
The order calls for better information sharing within the federal government and eliminates barriers that hamper information sharing so IT providers doing business with the government can report attacks without legal consequences, but no government mandate is forcing private companies not doing business with the U.S. to tell others what to look out for.
IT trade association CompTIA calls for a stronger approach within the private sector and its global membership to help limit the damage.
“But public/private information sharing must go beyond companies with federal contracts,” the group said in a statement in response to Biden’s executive order. “Access to real-time information on cyber risks along with actionable steps to respond to breaches must be widely disseminated if we are to limit damage and deter attackers.”